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Apple Pay is coming to China in 2016

Apple Pay is officially coming to China. The company today announced a partnership with China UnionPay, the association that runs China's bank card industry, to bring Apple's wireless payment service to the country "as soon as early 2016." Apple's Eddy Cue, senior vice president of internet software and services, said that Apple Pay had support from 15 of China's leading banks, but the company noted the service is still subject to tests and certification required by Chinese regulators before it launches.

The service will work with QuickPass, an existing contactless payment technology developed by UnionPay, allowing iPhone 6 and Apple Watch owners to pay in stores across the country when Apple Pay does roll out. In November it was reported Apple aimed to get Apple Pay up and running in China before the Chinese New Year is celebrated on February 8th. It's not clear if the service will pass the battery of tests and certifications before that date, but the company has worked hard to get Apple Pay activated in the country, starting a company in Shanghai's free trade zone earlier this year and investing $13.4 million into its operation.

Depending on how fast Apple Pay can pass the battery of tests it faces for regulation, China may become the fifth country to support the contactless payment service. It's currently live in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia, but the company said it plans to bring it to Hong Kong, Spain, and Singapore soon, possibly before it hits China. With UnionPay, Apple has a powerful partner — the association is responsible for clearing China's bank card payments — but Apple Pay may face stiff competition from established mobile payment services, including Tencent's WeChat, and Alibaba's AliPay.