Apple Pay Coming to China (Sept. 17, 2014)
Apple and China UnionPay Co. have struck a deal to bring Apple Pay, the wallet app featured on the new NFC-enabled iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, to China, according to Caixin, a Beijing-based media company. Apple Pay works with Apple’s existing Passbook app to enable users to store tokenized payment card data to make in-store payments. iPhone users in the country will be able to connect their payment cards to their Apple devices. UnionPay is among the largest payment card brands in the world with more than 3.5 billion cards issued, the majority of those in China.
“The partnership is clearly good for Apple as it needs China UnionPay if it’s going to introduce Apple Pay to that market,” James Wester, research director, global payments, IDC Financial, tells Paybefore. “It’s tempting, however, to overstate the effects of the partnership since China is such a massive, and relatively untapped, payment market and UnionPay is the only card issuer. Apple’s brand influence and market share in China are much smaller, so a partnership between Apple and UnionPay doesn’t guarantee a widespread consumer adoption. The issues of an unclear merchant and consumer value proposition need to be addressed in China just like they need to be addressed in the U.S.”
Since Apple’s launch event last week in the U.S., the company announced several supporters, which included payments networks American Express, MasterCard and Visa, along with card issuers Bank of America, Capital One Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. Though the iPhone 6 will be available this week in the U.S., there’s no firm date when the phones will be available to Chinese consumers, after the initial Sept. 19 release was pushed back, according to reports.
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