Tim Cook has described his desire to bring Apple Pay to China as “top of the list” in terms of priorities — and now it seems like he may finally be on the verge of hitting his goal.
According to a new report, it is hoped that Apple Pay will launch in China by early February, after Apple struck deals with China’s four biggest state-run banks.
The delay in brokering this deal came down to the amount that Apple will earn from Apple Pay transactions. In the U.S, Apple makes 0.15 percent of all credit card transactions and 0.5 cents per debit transaction, although this could well be different in China.
Regulatory hurdles and securing the necessary permits means this isn’t a done-deal yet, but this is the closest Apple has yet come to an Apple Pay deal — putting Apple on a collision course with rival services like China’s Alibaba-run online payment platform Alipay, and the state-controlled UnionPay.
Taken together with the continued rollout of brick-and-mortar retail stores in the region, and the fact that Apple’s sales virtually doubled in Greater China last quarter, it seems that Tim Cook’s prophecy about China overtaking the United States as Apple’s biggest market may be close to coming true.