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Report: China Apple Pay launch in time for Spring Festival

Last year, China's multi-day Spring Festival generated $111.1 billion in retail sales and dining. Apple might get a nice piece of that pie by launching Apple Pay before the Chinese New Year.
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Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributing Writer on

Apple hopes to bring Apple Pay to the world's second largest economy - and the most populated country - by February 8, 2016. Considering that Google's mobile apps and services aren't really welcome in China, the move could gain large traction for Apple's digital payment services.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that Apple has worked out Apple Pay deals with the four main state-run banks in China: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd, China Construction Bank Ltd, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd, and Bank of China Ltd.

However, there's more work to do with the country's banking regulatory groups. And not all of the details are nailed down yet, sources say; particularly in how much Apple will charge for each transaction. According to the Journal, Apple earns 0.15% of a credit card transaction value and $0.05 per debit card transaction.

An Apple push to bring Apple Pay to China sooner rather than later is one of good timing.

The company is on a roll in the region, with third quarter 2015 iPhone sales up 87 percent from the prior year and overall quarterly revenues 99 percent higher than a year ago.

That means there are plenty of iPhones already seeded in China that can support Apple Pay. And even better for Apple: It doesn't yet have to contend with Google's Android Pay, a similar digital payment system.

China has generally shunned Google's Android apps, Play Store and services for the last several years, making it tougher for Android Pay to be a contender in the country; a problem Google is surely working to address. It's unlikely the company will have done so prior to February 8, however.

What's the significance of that date and why would Apple be pushing to launch Apple Pay in China by then?

That coincides with the week-long China Spring Festival, which generated 678 billon yuan (US $111.1 billion) in sales this past spring, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.. If Apple Pay can get even a small piece of that pie, it's a potentially sizable chunk of revenue for the company.

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