On Thursday, the tech giant announced that its Apple Pay service is now available in China. The move will enable users within the country to make purchases using Apple devices.
The customers will be able to use Apple Pay with cards from 19 banks and several merchants, including KFC, Carrefour, 7-Eleven and McDonald’s. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd has recently announced it will also add Apple Pay support.
“We think China could be our largest Apple Pay market,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said in an interview to Reuters.
Developed in 2014, the service has gained a wide usage across the UK, Canada, Australia and the US. This year, Apple also plans to launch the service in Hong Kong, Spain and Singapore.
The current expansion is a big step forward for Apple, as China has the largest smartphone market in the world. Moreover, it is the company’s second biggest market in terms of profits. In the last fiscal quarter, Apple’s sales in the country increased to $12.5 billion.
Mobile devices are being widely used for buying goods in China, with the country’s mobile payments industry amounting to $90 billion. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, at the end of 2015, 358 million people had been using their smartphones for making payments, Reuters reported.
Once launched, Apple Pay will face a high competition from the local online payments providers. The market is currently dominated by Alibaba’s Alipay, Tencent’s Tenpay and WeChat Payment platforms. Besides, some merchants, even the US, are still reluctant to accept money via online mobile payment systems.
“With 100 percent saturation of local payment systems, no one in China is clamoring for Apple Pay,” the unknown retailer told Reuters. “Today, everyone has a local payment option on their phone, so Apple Pay is a solution in need of a problem.”
To compete with local market leaders, Apple also teamed up with UnionPay, the China’s major bank card organization supported by the central government.
Moreover, Apple Pay is easier to use, if compared to Alipay and Tenpay. To pay with Alipay a user has to open a payment app and use a camera to scan a QR-code.
Meantime, Apple Pay requires a user just to bring a mobile device to a terminal and touch the home screen to confirm identity. To use the service, retailers will have to integrate the near-field communications technology into their terminals that will provide connectivity to mobile devices.