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Apple links up China's UnionPay to App Store

China is a vital growth area for Apple and the new payment system is likely to boost sales.

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Credit: Apple

Apple has added China's UnionPay as a payment option for customers in China.

The iPad and iPhone maker announced the new deal over the weekend, which gives customers in China a wider range of payment options when purchasing apps and media from the App Store.

Once a UnionPay account is linked to an Apple ID, customers can make one-click purchases with their credit or debit cards.

China's UnionPay is responsible for the country's national inter-bank clearing and settlement system, and has issued over 4.5 billion cards in China and abroad. The cards are accepted in over 140 countries and have been issued across all cities and rural areas in China. As China's most popular payment card issuer, a deal with Apple means an additional revenue driver for the tech giant, and will help secure Apple's future position in the important Chinese market.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services commented:

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"The ability to buy apps and make purchases using UnionPay cards has been one of the most requested features from our customers in China. China is already our second largest market for app downloads, and now we’re providing users with an incredibly convenient way to purchase their favorite apps with just one-tap."

Apple has recently made inroads in mobile payment systems, having launched Apple Pay last month in the United States to compete with Google Wallet. The UnionPay deal may become an avenue used to drive Apple Pay in the country, and in the meantime, partnerships with Chinese retailers could support an eventual release of the mobile payment system.

However, the tech giant may be slow off the mark. In September, rival smartphone maker Samsung announced a partnership with UnionPay to introduce the NFC payment service to Chinese customers.

Last week , Alibaba's Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai said the company was in talks with the tech giant over Apple Pay -- and how a potential partnership with Apple could benefit both firms.

Tsai said the e-commerce giant is positive about a deal being struck -- but "there are certain restrictions and limitations on Apple's payment business operations in China."

Read on: Apple