Apple is taking a swing at China’s emerging mobile payment market. On Thursday the company announced plans to bring Apple Pay — a service that enables purchases to be made from iPhones and Apple Watches — to China in early 2016. Apple is partnering with bank-card processor China UnionPay Co. and 15 Chinese banks to get Apple Pay up and running in the country.
The deal will bring Apple's nascent payment service to the world’s largest smartphone market and the company's second-largest global market, behind the United States. In Apple's September quarter, China accounted for more than $12.5 billion of sales.
“China is an extremely important market for Apple and with China UnionPay and support from 15 of China’s leading banks, users will soon have a convenient, private and secure payment experience,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, in a statement.
Competition in the Chinese payment market is fierce: Messaging app WeChat has offered a payment service since 2014; Alibaba’s Alipay digital wallet boasts over 350 million users; and now Samsung has set its sights on the country as well.