The official announce came out in Dec 2015 and in few months has become concreteness. Apple is looking forward to don’t lose too much margin in the challenge for offline shopping through mobile systems in the most dynamic scenario for mobile’s payments, e-commerce and online app designed for mobile users. China is already the second largest market for Apple about sales of devices and the decision to sign agreement with Union Pay’s circuit represents the way that the company must follow to be competitive with important players like Tencent in China.
At the moment Apple already achieved authorization from 18 operators and it seems that more than 80% of chinese credit cards and debit cards in China can be used for digital payment through Apple Pay system.
Apple well knows that chinese perception of mobile -devices is totally different than in US or in other western countries. Chinese way of using mobile is much more integrated with several specific applications according with specific segments of “offline – life”, strongly directed to O2O issues in particular for those concern shopping and entertainment.
In China approximately 60% of daily expenditures are issued through digital wallet integrated in the mobile device, an important and huge segment if compared with USA where only 19% of transactions are made with payments via mobile. Within apps, Apple Pay purchases can be made using an iPhone or iPad that supports NFC, which includes the iPhone 6 and later and the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro.
Honestly I think that Apple Pay is not an “on time’s solution” for via mobile’s payments in China. The decision has been made to try to keep Apple – lovers and users on the good mood following their loyalty for Apple brand much more than to win the fight with other chinese operators like Alipay and Tenpay (same ideator of wechat).
Wechat got more than 590 million of active daily users and approximately 650 million of registered users in China according with last data statistics published on official bulletins and represents at the moment the best application for instant messaging. Recently it has integrated e-commerce system based on that we can define “social commerce strategy”. It means sell directly to your followers and friends making your business direct, easy, safe and enthusiastic like the chinese way to sell goods in the “pre-digitalized era – before 2010”.
On this way the instant messaging app makes businesses under direct influence of social media joiners and the businesses viceversa are directed and, why not, directly created by people are close to you, following your pages and products through wechat.
The chinese perception that all in one, all is online and everybody are online is strictly connected with mobile’s usage: the info about offline products are collected through the web via mobile or directly through e-commerces platforms, the word of mouth about brands or styles is boosted through chat, messaging, microblogging, you choose online what you want to buy offline and you made the payment with the same tool you are using to discover and define the shopping you are going to do: the mobile.
Even if Tenpay doesn’t use NFC technology like Applepay they offer an offline payment system that is very easy and quick. It just needs a mobile and a simple code reader. Chinese people lives in wechat-dimension and everybody is used to say “we chat is great cause it’s simple and you don’t need to many app to do everything” (communicate, search for goods and pay)
That’s why I think that Apple awareness of the risk on being far away from this “environment” is much more looking forward to consolidate their brand strategy with devices that can pay directly shopping items and being on this way part of that deep consciousness in chinese people for mobile ias the source to be connected to the world.