Apple Pay is officially coming to China in 2016. The news arrived today via a joint announcement from Apple and China UnionPay, the country’s most prominent bank and card issuer.
The launch date isn’t any more specific than that year-long range, with the companies involved still working with Chinese authorities to comply with state regulations. But recent rumors have pointed to a February launch; and in any case the official confirmation itself is, to some extent, remarkable, given the relatively closed nature of the country’s state-directed economy.
It’s going to work in essentially the same way that it does everywhere else: Upon the service’s launch, China UnionPay customers will be able to add their bank cards to the Apple Pay app on their mobile devices, and from there can perform contactless NFC transactions in participating stores.
Apple Pay won’t be the only mPayment service in the country, of course; it’s going to face serious competition from Alipay, which already has a strong foothold in China. There are also hints that Samsung Pay may also soon launch in the country, and PayPal could pose a threat as well.
All of this should be good news for Chinese consumers, who will enjoy a wealth of mPayment options by the end of the year.