There's word Apple plans to expand Apple Pay past the US and UK by launching it in China as early as this week and France by the first half of this year, as it looks to take on competition from Samsung, Paypal, Alibaba and others.
On Sunday, a China bank's official WeChat account confirmed Thursday's Apple Pay launch in China for 5AM local time. Apple had previously confirmed the launch of Apple Pay in China for sometime in 2016.
China's Guangfa Bank has confirmed the launch in a statement (translated):
Hello, the Apple company, China UnionPay jointly confirmed, Apple Pay service will be held February 18 at 5:00 formally launched.
Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell told Reuters in December that Apple should have no problem in the China market, which Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software said in December.
"I think Samsung Pay depends on Samsung selling devices and I think if anything, Samsung is in retreat in that (Chinese)market. So, I don't see Samsung Pay as a major threat," Cordwell said.
"The bigger challenge is against Alipay or WePay, which are more platform agnostic and have a strong user base. I see that as the main competitive threat to Apple," he said.
As for France, Apple-focused blog iGen reported on Monday from anonymous sources an Apple Pay launch could come as soon as the first half of 2016 in the country. There's possibility of an announcement at WWDC 2016, likely in June, but it depends on negotiations with local banks.
Apple Pay is growing at a solid rate and adding new countries could seriously boost the service. A launch in France could mean support for Apple Pay in more of Europe is coming.
There are now 2 million accepting locations and 5 million contactless-pay terminals in countries that support Apple Pay.