Apple Pay will make its official debut in China on February 18, local banks have confirmed. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. will be one of the first to support the mobile payments service in its fifth market.
Apple previously confirmed Apple Pay will be available in China in early 2018, and it looks like the Cupertino company is sticking to that promise. However, a spokeswoman declined to confirm ICBC’s announcement on social media.
ICBC is China’s biggest lender by assets, but it certainly won’t be the only Apple Pay supporter. According to Apple’s website, 19 Chinese lenders will offer Apple Pay, including UnionPay, Bank of Beijing, Bank of China, Bank of Shanghai, and SPD Bank.
China has become Apple’s second-biggest market by revenue, and the iPhone is becoming increasingly popular there. It’s no surprise Apple has been planning to make Apple Pay available in China for some time, then. But it has strong competition from other services.
As the world’s largest smartphone market, with more than 358 million users (that’s more than the population of the entire U.S.), China already boasts a number of mobile payments services that are incredibly popular, such as WeChat Payment and Alipay.
China Guangfa Bank Co Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. have also said they are launching Apple Pay on February 18, according to local news sources, but others have declined to comment when probed by Reuters.