Apple teams up with Alipay to boost iPhone sales in China

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iPhone XS box gold
Things don't look good for iPhone in 2019.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has joined forces with Alipay in an effort to boost iPhone sales in China.

iPhone fans can now bag one of the company’s latest handsets with up to two years of interest-free finance. The loan allows customers to swap the costly upfront fee for much more affordable monthly payments. It’s available on purchases of 4,000 yuan (approx. $595) or more.

Apple’s rising prices are killing its iPhone business in emerging markets, where few fans can afford to drop $749 or more on its latest phones. Sales have fallen so swiftly that the iPhone just suffered its worst quarter in nearly three years. But Apple has a plan to change that.

It has already reduced iPhone prices in some markets, including China, but not by enough to significantly boost sales. Rather than slashing them anymore, it is offering interest-free loans to persuade consumers to uprade.

Apple offers interest-free financing through Alipay

The new financing option lets customers pick up a flagship iPhone without forking out hundreds upfront. Just like the iPhone Upgrade Program, it spreads out the cost of their brand new device over a maximum of 24 months, making it much more affordable.

The credit can be used for purchases of 4,000 yuan or more, CNBC reports, which means even the iPhone XR is eligible at 6,499 yuan. But customers will need to act fast; the interest-free loan is only on offer until March 25, 2019.

Apple seeks iPhone sales boost

Alipay has previously offered interest-free credit for up to one year on Apple purchases. Apple will be hoping a longer deal, which will reduce monthly payments even further, will encourage more fans to visit an Apple Store and pick up one of its latest handsets.

Apple certainly needs that boost right now. Last quarter, iPhone sales fell by a whopping $5 billion year-over-year in China. “If you look at our results, our shortfall is over 100 percent from iPhone and it’s primarily in greater China,” Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed in a recent interview.

The new partnership will likely have some success, with more than 700 million people already using Alipay. But it’s unclear what Apple’s plans are for boosting sales in emerging markets later on down the line. Many fans are hoping that this year’s iPhone refresh will bring smaller prices alongside big improvements.