An Apple entity which could offer a payment service was registered in the Shanghai pilot free-trade zone in June, The Wall Street Journal reported, which indicates that Apple is eyeing a possible launch in China.
China is widely tipped as one of the next markets for Apple Pay. However, it is likely to face competition, not least from Samsung Pay which is also considering a launch there.
The entity is called Apple Technology Services with operations including technical consulting, services and system integration in the field of payments, according to Shanghai government’s company registration database.
Its only investor appears to be Apple South Asia Pte. Ltd., Apple’s Singaporean branch, and it has a registered capital of $13.4 million.
Gary Joseph Wipfler, Apple vice president and corporate treasurer, is listed as legal representative and chairman.
The report quoted anonymous sources as saying the move would “bring Apple Pay, considered as a new type of business, new model and new technology, into China.”
The move will likely require approval from Chinese regulators such as the central bank.
In May, Apple CEO Tim Cook strengthened speculation about entry into China when he said “we very much want to get Apple Pay in China” and the company has been talking to local banks and e-commerce giant Alibaba about launching Apple Pay.
Outside of the US, Apple Pay is only available in the UK.
In China, Alibaba’s payment app Alipay is very popular, with 400 million registered as of June, as is Tencent’s payment service linked to its WeChat app.
In the Asia Pacific region, steep growth in mobile payments has been predicted as a result of financial inclusion policies and the rise of so-called semi-closed wallets that are linked to bank accounts.