Apple Pay’s Chinese expansion hits wall

Apple is struggling to please Chinese financial institutions as it attempts to arrange the roll-out of Apple Pay in China. Talks with card processor China UnionPay are rumoured to have stalled as Chinese regulators look on.

China’s central bank has said that the US tech company has not yet “acknowledged regulators”, MarketWatch reported, quoting a People’s Bank of China official. While the company is working to cooperate with Chinese financial institutions and banks for the proposed release of Apple Pay in the country, it is still not clear as “whether the product meets the government’s requirements” for a commercial release.

Apple is rumoured to have been in talks with state-owned card system operator UnionPay with a view to an agreement by March, but these talks are also said to have stalled without any need for intervention from Chinese regulators.

Apple Pay is working towards expanding its service globally, with plans for a Canadian release this spring and a move into Europe expected later in the year. But the company has had its sights set on China for some time, even attempting to work with Alipay to smooth its entry into the lucrative market.

But Apple Pay’s NFC payments protocol will rely on integration with UnionPay, whose NFC system has been around for about two years, letting consumers with Chinese bank accounts shop with smartphones equipped with China Mobile or China Unicom SIM cards. Stalled talks and increased interest from regulators may limit the tech giant’s ability to move its mobile payments service into China, which is expected to take over from the US as the world’s largest retail market by 2018.

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