Apple Pay Launches in China on Feb 18

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Apple Pay is finally launching in China later this week on February 18th, bringing the iPhone mobile payment platform to what could become Apple's largest market. At least three banks are expected to be on board right away including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

China's Apple Pay launch coming on February 18thChina's Apple Pay launch coming on February 18th

China's state run media said two more banks, China Guangfa Bank and China Construction Bank, will be part of Thursday's Apple Pay launch, according to Reuters. Apple lists 19 banks as partners, which implies others will be launching their Apple Pay support later.

Apple said in late 2015 it was targeting February for its Apple Pay kick off in China. A few weeks later, Apple and China UnionPay announced plans for an Apple Pay launch in "early 2016."

At the time, Apple said it was waiting for the "relevant tests and certification required by Chinese regulators" to be completed. With banks ready to roll out their Apple Pay support this week, it looks like those tests and certifications are done.

Apple Pay is Apple's system for handling credit card transactions with our iPhone or Apple Watch instead of using a physical card. Apple Pay is more secure than swiping magnetic stripes because it doesn't hand off our actual credit card numbers and requires fingerprint authentication to complete transactions.

China's mobile phone user base is larger than the population of the United States, which makes for a huge market Apple can tap into. Apple sees the potential for China to become its biggest market, and Apple Pay will help with that because the country's smartphone users are already used to paying for products and services with mobile devices.

Apple hasn't commented on Thursday's reported Apple Pay launch, but it's a safe bet company executives are glad the wait for China's rollout is finally over.

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Apple Pay in China is a huge deal. It's potentially the biggest smartphone market for Apple, and mobile payment support is an important part of making that happen.

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