Payment Methods

China Apple Pay Launch: 3 Million Cards In 2 Days

Denys Prykhodov /

Within just two days of Apple Pay finally launching in China back on Feb. 18, Chinese shoppers reportedly activated 3 million payment cards within the mobile wallet.

According to China Merchants Bank, its customers connected 1 million bank cards to Apple Pay within the first couple days of the payment method becoming available, representing 35 percent of cards connected with Apple Pay in China, Internet Retailer reported Tuesday (March 1).

China Merchants Bank is just one of the 19 financial institutions involved in Apple Pay’s rollout in China, including the country’s sole debit card network, China UnionPay. So far, Apple has secured the support of the credit card issuers/networks that account for 80 percent of China’s credit/debit cards.

There are also 16 retail chains now supporting Apple Pay in the country, including Starbucks, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, with many also promoting discounts and offers for consumers who use Apple Pay.

It’s no surprise Apple is satisfied with Apple Pay’s fast start within its fifth country launch.

“I would rate our first-day performance as 1,000, if the full score is 100,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said at a mid-February press conference in China.

But the Apple Pay launch in China has not gone off without just a bit of controversy.

Just a week after the rollout, Apple was accused of cutting a deal with Chinese banks to charge them less fees than what it charges banks in the U.S., which could explain why China’s banks were finally ready to jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon.

While the report from the Chinese news site Caixin cited unnamed sources said to be close to the matter, it came at an interesting time as it was somewhat curious what made China’s banks give into Apple’s deal since there are already other mobile payments options (like Alipay) dominating the consumer payments market.

What the sources indicate is that Apple will get 0.07 percent of each Apple Pay transaction, which is less than half of what U.S. banks fork over to Apple per transaction. In the U.S., banks are charged 0.15 percent fees on each purchase. Apple will reportedly begin collecting its fees in two years post-launch.

While these details about China’s banks and Apple Pay transaction fees are not confirmed by Apple, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially because the bank fees were at the root of what delayed Apple Pay from coming to China sooner. A deal was eventually made in December to bring Apple Pay to 15 of China’s banks, which is now up to 19.


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