The Apple iPhone 7 was China’s second-best selling phone in 2017 — but Apple has never been a firm thrilled with a silver medal. If 2017 was a silver effort, emerging reports indicate that 2018 will be a year Apple looks to raise the level of its game.
And so, as cNet is reporting this morning, Apple is going for the gold, so to speak, with a little help from China’s favorite digital payment method, Alipay — “uncharacteristic” for Apple, a brand known for the very high walls it puts around its garden with precious few doors for third-party providers to move through.
The tie-up with Ant Financial, the payments counterpart to eCommerce giant Alibaba, will allow Chinese customers to buy products in-store and online using Alipay, despite the fact that Alipay and Apple Pay are arguably direct competitors.
Ant Financial is touting this as the first time Apple has allowed for a third-party mobile payment method in its physical stores.
But Alipay is a massive commerce force in the nation, and Apple is committed to capturing success there — an attempt that has been elusive at times, as Chinese consumers have often balked at Apple’s inflated price tags. Apple’s high water mark in-nation was hit during Q2 2015, in which it generated $16.8 billion.
Chinese mobile payments transactions hit $9 trillion in 2016, with Alipay accounting for around 61.5 percent of those sales.
Apple’s moves on Alipay are one in a pattern with Apple’s efforts to expand its Chinese footprint. Cupertino’s favorite firm has also opened up two data centers and made a billion-dollar investment in ride hailer Didi Chuxing.