The Beijing underground railway service launched NFC payments compatible with a range of mobile wallets across 160 different handsets, but Apple’s unwillingness to grant access to its NFC chip meant its users were excluded.
China Daily reported compatibility with Apple’s devices had been omitted because the company failed to unlock the NFC element for public transport, while the official announcement from Beijing Subway – which runs the underground service in the city – made no mention of the iPhone in its compatible device list.
The tap-payment system officially launched this week following a two month trial. The transport provider said the payment method had “potential for huge application” across its network, which is used for around 3.6 billion journeys per year.
Apple has been criticised numerous times for its closed ecosystem and alleged anticompetitive behaviour. Last week, Financial Times reported a group of 28 developers filed a case against the smartphone manufacturer for removing apps from the App Store and high commission on purchases.
Use of the NFC chip in the iPhone was the subject of legal action, with a consortium of Australian banks taking part in – and eventually losing – a legal bid to gain access to the hardware.
Since its China launch in February 2016, Apple Pay struggled to gain traction in the country, which is dominated by home-grown providers Alipay and Tencent-owned Tenpay.
According to the latest statistics from China-focused research company Analysys – covering calendar Q3 2016 and released in February 2017 – the payment service doesn’t even make the top ten apps by transaction value.
Analysys said Alipay and Tenpay held a combined 88.5 per cent of the lucrative market.