Apple Inc is holding talks with Chinese banks and retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd about the launch of its Apple Pay mobile payments system in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook told China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
"We very much want to get Apple Pay in China," Cook told Xinhua on Monday. "I'm very bullish on Apple Pay in China."
Apple has been in negotiations with Alibaba in the past to discuss a possible partnership. Cook told Xinhua that he hopes to partner Apple Pay with Alibaba’s own Alipay system, which is the largest in the country. Alibaba CEO Jack Ma has said in the past that he would consider working with Apple on its payment system.
In September, Apple reportedly struck a deal with China UnionPay, the only interbank network authorized to cover all banks in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. However, the iPhone’s new operating system version, which launched last month, does not yet include support for China UnionPay.
Apple Pay allows users to remotely pay for goods with their phones through the use of near field communication (NFC) chips. It was launched in the U.S. last September, and quickly passed other “contact less” payment methods combined in total transactions, according to Apple.
Alipay uses Quick Response (QR) codes and fingerprints instead of NFC chips, but it still needs to go through China UnionPay’s NFC-supported system for payments.
Cook also said he was pleased with Apple overtaking local manufacturer Xiaomi in China’s smartphone market, and said he had great hopes for the region. Cook also told Xinhua that the firm plans to keep opening new stores in China, aiming to have 40 by next year from its current 22.
“I think China is a market where everyone will own a smartphone,” Cook told Xinhua.