Apple Pay faces major roadblock in China, after UnionPay stalls negotiations

Greenlight's smart debit card for kids is now available on Apple Pay.
American retailers and banks have, for the most part, cheerfully accepted Apple Pay with open arms. Even the U.S. government made a deal with the company. However, it seems other places are being more cautious about the mobile payments system. China’s largest credit card provider UnionPay has yet to announce a partnership with Apple, despite multiple rumors and hints from Apple CEO Tim Cook that a deal is key to the company’s ambitions for Apple Pay.

For quite some time now, Apple has been in talks with the two biggest players in the Chinese mobile payment industry: UnionPay and Alibaba’s Alipay. The American company reportedly hoped to strike a deal with either or both of the Chinese companies by March, but now talks have stalled. According to anonymous sources who are familiar with the discussions, UnionPay seems to be leery of making a deal with Apple Pay because it fears that Apple’s system may overtake its own.

UnionPay offers NFC-based payments similar to those performed with Apple Pay to customers with Chinese bank accounts and smartphone SIM cards provided by either China Mobile or China Unicom. As it stands, UnionPay has a monopoly over NFC-based mobile payments, while Alibaba’s Alipay has control over QR-code-based mobile payments. Should UnionPay link up with Apple Pay, its own system might become irrelevant, or at the very least, threatened. Additionally, if Apple agrees to work with Alipay as well, the two Chinese competitors could end up having to work together.

“Letting Apple Pay enter China will have a profound impact,” a financial-sector source told Caixin Online. “For UnionPay, cooperating with Apple means opening its settlement system. It would be hard to say who’s in control … UnionPay definitely wants to keep a grip on the system.”

To make matters more complicated, it seems that Chinese government regulators may also have issues with Apple Pay on the technology level. Apparently, NFC chips that are used in mobile payments in China must meet with a technical standard called PBOC 3.0. Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus reportedly meet some of those standards, but not all of them. Of course, it’s possible that Apple may willingly alter its chips to meet China’s requirements of that helps speed up the process.

“Apple is seeking to cooperate with Chinese financial institutions,” a People’s Bank of China (PBOC) official said.

Additionally, China allegedly wants Apple to establish a mainland China data center to keep its Chinese customers’ information safe from hackers. A support center would also be required, so as to ensure that Chinese Apple Pay users have access to assistance, should any problems arise. Apple may also be asked to lower the amount of fees it collects from transactions made with its system in China, sources say.

At this point, it’s impossible to say whether Apple will agree to China’s terms, or if UnionPay will  deign to support the rival mobile payment system at all. We’ll continue to update this post as the saga continues.

Home Theater

Apple Music encourages subscribers to give friends a free 1-month pass

It's no secret that Apple has its sights set squarely on Spotify's enviable subscriber count, but how will Apple Music grow? By using existing customers to recruit new members by letting them send friends a one-month free pass.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for February 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for February 2019.

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.

5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.

Own an unlocked Galaxy S9? The U.S. Android Pie update has landed

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.