Eddy Cue: Apple Pay is headed to world’s second-biggest country

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Apple Pay
Apple wants to brings iPhone payments to India.
Photo: Apple

Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue has confirmed that the company wants to bring its Apple Pay service to India. Apple also has plans to make big improvements to Maps and Apple Music in what Cue says is one of its most important markets.

Smartphone sales are predicted to explode in India over the next few years. Sales during the first quarter of this year grew 15 percent to reach 29 million units. By 2021, it is estimated that annual sales will reach 231.5 million units, up from just 102.4 million in 2016.

It’s easy to see why the market has become so important for Apple. The iPhone-maker has big plans to boost sales and the popularity of its brand locally. Cue spoke to The Economic Times to reveal some of the ideas, centered around Apple Pay, Apple Music, and Maps.

Apple Pay is on the way

It doesn’t sound like Apple has concrete plans to launch its mobile payments service in India just yet. But it is an ambition. “We absolutely want to bring Apple Pay to market here,” Cue said, adding that Apple isn’t too concerned about the payment mechanism itself.

“It is great that all of these payment mechanisms are coming out in India because it empowers people to be able to pay. What Apple Pay does is make that process easy, integrated and safe.”

Apple Music will get even better

Apple Music is already available in India, and like in the U.S. and other markets, subscribers can save on student and family plans. To make the service even greater, Apple is planning new collaborations with Bollywood and local artists.

It hopes to team up with popular artists and do “creative, innovative things with them.” Cue pointed to Apple’s recent collaboration with Harry Styles on a “making of” documentary for his new album. The company has also teamed up with the likes of Taylor Swift and Pink.

“It’s always about the music first and then there are the features and functions that help,” Cue said.

Cue also praised India’s film and entertainment market, and said Apple hopes to introduce other countries to Indian music.

Apple Maps is getting big investment

Its bumpy start has all but been forgotten, and now Maps is a key service for Apple. The company is investing a “tremendous amount” to build and expand the app, and now has a team of 4,000 people working on it in India.

Cue highlighted the country’s “talent in engineering skills, which are hard to find anywhere in the world.”

India is still incredibly important

Most would say Apple could do more to appeal to Indian consumers — like slashing its prices to cater to the vast majority, who simply cannot afford an iPhone. But Cue insists it remains an incredibly important market where Apple is making big strides.

Apple expects to remain in India “for the long term,” Cue said. “When we are building new products or enhancing existing products, we are thinking of India.”