Although the arrival of Apple’s mobile payment system in China was announced two months ago, its February 18 launch date wasn’t known until this Monday, when China Guangfa Bank revealed the news in a Sina post.
Guangfa is one of the 19 Chinese banks (including the big ones, like ICBC and Citic) on board with Apple for its Chinese mobile payment foray.
It all began last December when UnionPay, the monopoly-holder for bank-card payments in China, made the deal with Apple, by which its customers would be able to link their accounts to their Apple devices (iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch) and make cashless and cardless payments.
Some details of the deal, such as how much of each transaction will be going to Apple, haven’t been disclosed yet. In the US, for example, Apple retains 0.15 percent of all credit card payments, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Apple Pay was introduced in 2014 and China is the fifth country to adopt it, after the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
However, unlike those other countries, China is already quite familiar with mobile payments, with some 360 million people routinely using this method. Apple thus faces robust competition in the form of Alipay, Alibaba’s mobile payment app, and WeChat Wallet, Tencent’s equivalent.
But Apple’s motivation is not in short supply as, according to the Verge, it “worked hard” throughout last year to obtain this valuable deal, and proved its commitment to the Chinese government by spending USD13.4 million to create and run a company in Shanghai’s free-trade zone.