Sources close to the matter are claiming that Apple is struggling with its relationship with UnionPay, China’s state-owned credit and debit card system operator, and that talks aimed at an agreement that would open China to Apple Pay have stalled. According to MarketWatch, a central bank official has revealed that Chinese regulators have not yet intervened in negotiations, which began last year and were aimed at an agreement between Apple and UnionPay by March.
“Apple is seeking to cooperate with Chinese financial institutions” including banks for the use of Apple Pay, a People’s Bank of China (PBOC) official said. At the same time, the American company has not yet “acknowledged regulators,” and as a result, “it’s unclear whether the product meets the government’s requirements” for a commercial operation.
While Apple continues to work towards expanding its Apple Pay globally, it remains unclear whether the service will be allowed in China, one of Apple’s biggest markets, anytime soon. Regulators have said that in order to qualify for access to any NFC system in China, Apple Pay must comply with a central bank rule that restricts electronic payment systems to those using chips that meet a technical standard called PBOC 3.0. A source familiar with Apple Pay said that iPhone chips that drive the payment system do not fully comply with this standard.
Previously, analysts had speculated that Apple Pay might find a way to access China by using Alipay instead of UnionPay to process iPhone owner transactions.