Apple Pay wants to bite a slice of cake from Alipay

Apple Bringing Apple Pay to China With UnionPay

With a new electronic-payments deal, Apple Inc. and China’s state-run bank-card giant are trying to catch up in a market where such services have already taken off.

The Cupertino, Calif., maker of iPhones and iPads said on Thursday in the U.S. that it has teamed with bank-card processor China UnionPay Co. and 15 Chinese banks to bring its Apple Pay mobile-payment service to China as soon as early 2016. The move, which was reported last month by The Wall Street Journal, still requires testing and certification by Chinese lenders.

Apple Pay allows users to pay for their purchases via by iPhones, which they can tap against scanners at store checkout counters. Apple launched Apple Pay in the U.S. last year and has rolled out the service internationally in the U.K.

The deal would bring Apple Pay to a market where electronic payments have already taken off. In China, more than 304 million people made online payments last year, according to the official China Internet Network Information Center, while more than 361 million shopped online and more than 282 million banked online.

The market is dominated by Alipay, an electronic-payment service affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , and Tencent Holdings Ltd. , which has integrated payment system into its popular WeChat instant-messaging mobile app. Both make it easy for Chinese users to pay for a slew of services they can often access within the payment app itself.

Unlike Apple Pay, which uses what is called near-field communications technology that requires that the user be close to a checkout counter or a scanner, the Chinese services can largely be used anywhere.

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