Apple Pay Could Finally Launch In China Early Next Year

There’s been plenty of speculation over Apple plans to launch Apple Pay in China, but now it appears that the mobile payment service could finally land in the country early next year. That’s according to sources cited by a new Dow Jones report which claims Apple intends to have it live by February 2016.

The launch has been a long time coming. Apple has been keen on extending the service into China, where revenue jumped 99 percent year-on-year to reach $12.51 billion in its most recent quarter, for some while.

“We very much want to get Apple Pay in China,” CEO Tim Cook told state news company Xinhua back in May of this year. Apple is understood to have been in talks with Alibaba, the e-commerce powerhouse behind China’s popular Alipay service, over a partnership, but there’s still no update some six months after the Xinhua interview.

Under the surface, though, there are signs that Apple is moving things forward.

The U.S. company took a fairly major step towards Apple Pay’s China launch when it registered an entity in the Shanghai free-trade zone in September, while a former Alibaba general manager was put in charge of Apple Pay’s China operations shortly after, and Apple has been hiring for other positions within that team.

But just launching Apple Pay in China, where Apple’s business is booming, isn’t a guarantee of success. The aforementioned Alipay and Tencent’s WePay, the payments service attached to the hugely popular WeChat service, are the frontrunners in China’s mobile payments race.