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Apple Pay coming to China on February 18th, but faces stiff competition

Apple Pay, Apple's mobile wallet platform, will launch in China on February 18th. The service will launch for customers of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's "biggest lender by assets," according to Reuters. China Guangfa Bank Co and China Construction Bank Corp will launch Apple Pay support on the same day, with over a dozen other lenders expected to join the effort in the coming weeks and months. The launch is made possible by Apple's deal with UnionPay which dominates bank-card payments in China.

Apple has been very aggressive in its rollout of Apple Pay so far, maintaining a rapid schedule of new bank additions. But unlike in the United States, where tap-to-pay solutions remain unfamiliar to many consumers, China already has entrenched favorites that will take away some from Apple Pay's shimmer and appeal. Those are led by Tencent and Alibaba — both capable foes as Apple tries to infiltrate the world's largest smartphone market with its wallet replacement.

As 9to5Mac notes, China will become the fifth Apple Pay market and follows the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. Next month, the company is expected to unveil a new, 4-inch iPhone with Apple Pay support, something the outgoing iPhone 5S does not offer. That could also help Apple Pay's adoption around the globe. Apple Pay transactions can also be made with the Apple Watch.

Update February 17, 12:56AM: Articled updated to include mention of UnionPay.