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UnionPay Partners with Apple to bring NFC-based Payments to China

Up till now the mobile payments market in China has been dominated by QR codes, rather than applications that make use of NFC technology. However, that looks set to change as Apple pay, Apple’s new payment service, looks set to enter Asia’s largest market.

In order to bring the service to market Apple have teamed up with China’s largest card issuer China UnionPay, who will be working with Apple to offer Apple Pay through their existing eWallet infrastructure. The deal focuses on Apple’s latest phone, the iPhone 6, which is rumoured to get a release in China early next month.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express have already announced their own deals with Apple Pay, giving it access to payment processing infrastructure for all major processing networks worldwide.

This is not the first time that UnionPay has experimented with NFC-based payments, however their previous attempts have so far been unsuccessful, with the firm seeing better results with the existing QR codes system. The reason for this was thought to be due to the relatively limited uptake of smartphones in China up till now, however, over the past few years this has significantly changed, with there now being 700m smartphone users – that’s 51% of the population.

Unlike previous NFC payment technology, Apple plans to make use of biometric scanning, namely the finger print reader that has been incorporated into the new phone, to address security concerns that UnionPay and other issuers had ahead of launching the service into the Chinese market.

It’s not know how successful Apple Pay will be, with approximately only 17% of smartphone owners in China having an Apple device, or whether the launch of Apple Pay will coincide with that of the iPhone 6.