For Apple, China represents one of the most important markets, and is currently its largest area of growth. Despite lower cost Android smartphones and the emergence of local firms Xiaomi and Huawei as dominant players in China, the iPhone has experienced tremendous demand in the country.
Although expensive compared to its peers, the iPhone has benefited from its perceived premier status and become a luxury brand in China, along the same lines as products from Versace, Porsche and Rolex. In Apple’s last completed quarter, sales to greater China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) rose 99% from the same period last year to $12.5 billion. However, the overall market for foreign goods in China could experience difficulties in the future due to the recent devaluation of the yuan.
Aiming to continue this growth and provide more value to users, Apple has announced that it has partnered with China UnionPay to bring the Apple Pay mobile payment system to China. With it, China UnionPay cardholders of 15 leading banks will be able to connect their accounts to Apple Pay in order to conduct purchases through their iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. According to Apple, the arrival of Apple Pay is expected to take place in early 2016 following tests and certification by regulators.
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For China UnionPay, the deal with Apple follows a strategy of partnering with mobile providers to increase their growth in the fast growing Chinese mobile payments market. According to statistics from China’s Central Bank, mobile transactions rose 134% to over $3.5 trillion during 2014.
Commenting on the partnership, Chai Hongfeng, EVP of China UnionPay, stated: “China UnionPay is dedicated to promoting payment innovations and providing secure, convenient mobile payment experiences for its hundreds of millions of cardholders, aligning multiple parties in the industry. We’re very excited to offer Apple Pay among a diverse set of innovative payment options that work with China UnionPay QuickPass.”
Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services at Apple, added: “Apple Pay has revolutionized the way millions of people pay every day with their iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad 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.”