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Apple pushing to get Apple Pay into China, early February launch reported

Following an initially slow rollout of its mobile payments system, Apple has made big efforts recently to get Apple Pay to more customers in more countries.

And if a report Monday is to be believed, the tech firm is on the verge of launching the service in one of its most important markets: China.

Apple Pay looks set to arrive in the Asian country “by early February,” according to a Wall Street Journal report. Insiders with knowledge of the matter told the publication that although Apple still has to clear a number of regulatory hurdles, the company is moving toward launching the service before February 8, which marks the start of the country’s Spring Festival holiday.

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Paving the way for the rollout is the apparent inking of deals with China’s four major state-run banks, the Journal’s sources said. However, it doesn’t mention the state of play with China UnionPay, the all-important and very powerful credit- and debit-card processor Apple is keen to get on side so that users will be able to make payments in stores with UnionPay’s point-of-sale machines. The tech giant has also been in talks with major private-sector payments processor Alipay, though as with UnionPay, it’s not known if a deal has been reached.

Either way, the tone of the Journal’s report suggests Apple is confident it can launch its mobile payments service in the coming months, opening a new and lucrative revenue stream for the Cupertino company in one of its top markets.

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Apple Pay, which launched in the U.S. in October 2014, lets consumers pay for things either in-store or online using more recent iDevices. It rolled out to users in the U.K in July, with most major banks and credit card providers in the country now signed up to the service.

It also arrived just last week in Canada and Australia, while iDevice owners in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Spain – as well as China – are likely to have access to Apple Pay early next year.