Apple Pay is headed to China early next year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple reached a deal with the four major Chinese banks and is planning on launching Apple Pay support by February 2016.
Financially speaking, Apple Pay, which enables people to make retail payments using their Apple Watch and newer iPhones, won’t be a meaningful business for Apple, which is the world’s largest company and regularly posts some of the largest profits and revenue numbers ever seen.
Rather, the Cupertino-based tech giant’s focus on payments offers another way to embed Apple products into the lives of consumers. That helps create at least one more hurdle for consumers who might be tempted to buy another device when it’s time for a new phone.
Competitors like Samsung and Google have released their own mobile wallets based on the same idea.
In the US, Apple Pay might be over a year old, but mainstream consumers don’t seem that taken by it. The concept of paying with your phone is foreign for most Americans, who are still used to plastic cards.
But in China, mobile payments are quickly gaining acceptance among the shopping public. During the second quarter of 2015, some 2.28 billion mobile transactions were conducted in China, according to the People’s Bank of China (pdf in Chinese). That’s up 41% from the prior year.
China is also becoming increasingly important for Apple. In its most recently reported quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales nearly doubled, helping to drive revenue from what Apple calls “the Greater China region” to almost a quarter of the company’s overall sales.