Beijing, China (BBN)-Apple has confirmed that its alliance with China’s state-owned bankcard association, China UnionPay, will allow the lender’s cardholders to use Apple Pay from this week.
The union between Apple and UnionPay was announced late last year, but was subject to various approvals, reports BBC.
Shoppers around the world are being encouraged to use smartphones instead of cards to pay for in-store purchases.
Alibaba’s Alipay currently dominates China’s electronic payments market.
Apple confirmed its expansion into China on its website.
“You can now support Apple Pay for your customers in China, providing an easy, secure, and private way for them to pay using their China UnionPay credit and debit cards,” the firm said.
Apple’s head Tim Cook later announced the launch of Apple Pay in China early on Thursday via his Weibo account.
Several reports have indicated that as many as 20 China-based lenders will be supporting Apple Pay, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
ICBC had not responded to written inquiries on Thursday, however.
There has been a rapid take-up of smartphones in China, with an estimated 68 per cent of the population now owning one – and digital wallets are becoming a more popular way to pay for goods and services.
UnionPay’s alliance with Apple is an extension of its plans to make the most of that growing market.
By 2017 it is estimated the global mobile payments market will be worth some $1tn (£650bn).
In addition to Apple Pay, Google’s Android Pay is available at more than one million locations in the US, while Samsung Pay was launched in South Korea in August, followed by a launch in the US the following month.