Wall Street Journal [PAYWALL]:
Apple Inc. seeks by early February to launch its new Apple Pay electronic-payment service in China—a vibrant but fiercely competitive market for digital money—according to people familiar with its discussions.
The Cupertino, Calif., company has struck deals recently with China’s big four state-run banks, the people said, by which potential Apple Pay users could link the service with their local bank accounts.
Apple Pay could still face regulatory hurdles in China, where banking and e-commerce are overseen by a number of government agencies, the people said. Apple hopes to launch before Feb. 8, China’s Spring Festival holiday.
One Chinese developer who has seen the latest beta version of Apple’s mobile-operating system said logos for China’s UnionPay can be found within the package. China UnionPay Co. press officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Apple Pay is looking to enter a market where electronic payments are booming but entrenched rivals dominate. State-run UnionPay holds a monopoly on processing credit-card and debit-card payments, effectively locking out MasterCard Inc. and Visa Inc.
Amazing that Apple has been able to penetrate this market. The more ecosystem elements Apple can put in place in China, the higher their chances of long term success.