Apple Pay has finally launched in China.
In addition to the support of China UnionPay, the country’s sole domestic bank card issuer, Apple Pay has also now won the support of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s major lender. That’s encouraging, but the Cupertino mobile wallet is still going to face an uphill battle in trying to gain traction in the country.
That’s because domestic mPayment service providers like Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Payment app are already entrenched, with Alipay alone claiming to have 400 million active users, with 80 percent of those mostly using mobile devices. As such, “Apple Pay is a solution in need of a problem,” one retailer told Reuters.
Nevertheless, Apple believes that China UnionPay is its secret weapon. The bank reportedly wishes to compete against Alipay and WeChat Payment, and given its prominence in the country’s financial sector, together with the popularity of Apple’s iPhones among Chinese consumers, there could be some considerable leverage in the partnership.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay’s rival Samsung Pay is also launching in China this quarter, so there will be competition on multiple fronts, and many options for China’s consumers.