Apple Pay is one step closer to arriving in China

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Photo: Adrian Korte CC
Tim Cook has said bringing Apple Pay to China is a top priority.
Photo: Photo: Adrian Korte CC

Apple Pay is a bit closer to making its debut in China — thanks to a new company, Apple Technology Service (Shanghai) Ltd., which Apple has set up to operate in the Shanghai free-trade zone with the express purpose of running its mobile payment service.

Apple has reportedly seeded the new company with registered capital of $13.4 million, and names Apple’s VP and corporate treasurer Gary Joseph Wipfler as its legal representative and chairman.

Tim Cook has previously described bringing Apple Pay to China as “top of the list” in terms of priorities. In 2014, he told China’s official Xinhua news agency that, “Everything we do [in terms of services in the U.S.], we are going to work it here.”

As with the regularity approval which delayed the arrival of the iPhone 6 in China, however, the problem is with the necessary permits Apple needs. Companies that want to launch online payment services in China first have to gain approvals from Chinese regulators such as the central bank. This is easier said than done.

Hopefully for Apple, the existence of the China-based Apple Technology Service (Shanghai) Ltd marks a positive step on the road to debuting Apple Pay in the country, although the journey’s not over yet. And, as the Wall Street Journal points out, Apple Pay will be, “entering a market where electronic payments are already deeply entrenched” thanks to mobile apps like the Alibaba-owned Alipay — which currently has around 400 million registered users.

Still, as with any of Apple’s China-based strategy, the potential upside is huge!