Can Apple Pay Sell In China?

Category: Technology / Feb 18, 2016 10:06AM EDT

Apple may be used to being top dog in the tech world, but even for the U.S. giant, rolling out new products isn't always easy. The release in China of its mobile payment system Apple Pay hasn't gone entirely to plan. Paul Carsten reports.

Video Transcript:

It's used to putting out products and watching the customers flock.

But success won't be that simple for Apple's latest release in China.

Its mobile pay system Apple Pay launching nationwide on Thursday.

More that 350 million Chinese already buy goods and services on their phones.

And as Reuters Paul Carsten reports, that's going to make things tricky for Apple.

"People here are already using mobile payment systems, similar but in may ways better than Apple Pay. And those come from the country's two biggest internet companies Alibaba and Tencent. Not only do they let you make payments and transfer money very easily, but you have a whole array of features such as paying for your utility bills, paying for taxis and other rides, shopping, the list really does go on. The big question is what does Apple have to offer them they they can't already get from Tencent's Wechat payment or through Alibaba's AliPay."

With a mountain to climb to take on China's dotcom giants, Apple's best shot may be the finance sector siding with the banks.

It's got 19 of China's top lenders as partners - and the country's biggest bank ICBC has already said its customers can use Apple Pay from Thursday.

Apple has also partnered with China's state-backed payment card company UnionPay, which some say is looking to defend the market that it's losing to Tencent and Alibaba.

That joint venture could change the strategic landscape, if Apple Pay can find a way of winning over Chinese customers.