Apple retail stores to accept Alipay mobile payments in China

in General Discussion
In a move seemingly designed to increase sales and local sentiment, Apple will soon accept payments from popular Chinese service Alipay at its 41 brick-and-mortar stores in the country, the first third-party system in the world to enjoy support from Apple's retail arm.

Apple store in Hangzhou, China.

Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial announced the forthcoming support on Wednesday, saying the partnership will make Alipay the first third-party mobile payments system to be accepted by Apple retail, reports Reuters.

Currently, Apple stores around the world, including those in China, accept mobile payments via Apple Pay. While the first-party service has seen significant growth in Apple's domestic market in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Europe and Asia, it has yet to catch on in China.

The Alipay support is in some ways an expansion of Apple's existing payments framework, as the mobile option is a valid option for iTunes and App Store purchases. Apple began accepting Alipay in its digital stores more than a year ago.

Alipay's introduction at Apple retail stores should come as no surprise to those who have followed Apple Pay's long and tumultuous road to acceptance in China. Reports going back to 2014 suggested Apple could partner with Alibaba to deliver its fledgling Apple Pay service to the vast Chinese market.

Some theorized that a tie-up with Ant Financial would present Apple an easy path to regulatory approval in China. Indeed, both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alibaba chairman Jack Ma expressed interest in a partnership, and Alibaba later confirmed it was in talks to bring Apple Pay to China via Alipay's backend.

Those talks apparently fell through, as Apple Pay ultimately made its way to Chinese consumers in 2016 without the help of Alibaba's affiliate.


  • Reply 1 of 3
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,416member
    While I get what you are trying to say there, "the first third-party system in the world to enjoy support from Apple's retail arm" is probably not true. As Apple Stores support contactless payments generally (and they do), you could probably purchase something under the limit and pay for it with your with your Samsung Watch or Android phone using Android Pay, or PayPal, or as mentioned a contactless card. The Alipay deal, though, is "official" support whereas the others are "unofficial," so perhaps I am splitting hairs there. (and yes, I've seen someone buy an item in an Apple Store and pay for it using Android Pay -- all the virtual wallets are just NFC-based contactless cards at their core)
    avon b7
  • Reply 2 of 3
    Aren’t VISA and MasterCard ‘third party’?

    Edit to add:
    Isn’t cash third party?
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 3 of 3
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,321member
    Apple really tried to push Apple Pay in China, but results reportedly haven't been as good as in other countries. Usage is meager, in the very low single digits. Even running a pretty major promotion that offered  shoppers up to 50% off their purchases or up to 50 times the points usually rewarded by their credit cards when they use Apple Pay hasn't made a dent in the Alipay/WeChat duopoly that is said to process 95% of China's massive mobile payments market, the largest in the world.

    So officially accepting Alipay as a third-party mobile payment app in Apple Stores is recognition that in order to grow in China they need to make special accommodations that aren't necessary elsewhere.  Seems Apple has to make a LOT of special accommodations for China in order to play there. This is just one more. 
    edited February 2018
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