During Apple's Financial Call back in January Apple's CEO Tim Cook had noted that Apple pay was off to very fast start with over 750 banks and credit unions already signed on to bring Apple Pay to their customers and that 2015 was going to be the Year of Apple Pay. Since then Home Depot appears to be preparing to accept Apple Pay this fall and even Walmart has hinted the same. In addition, Best Buy will be coming on board as will Discover. Late last night we learned a little about Apple's progress with Apple Pay in China.
According to Reuters, Apple is in talks with Chinese banks and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on launching the firm's mobile payments system in China, Chief Executive Tim Cook told the official Xinhua news agency in an interview published on Tuesday. Yet no real details emerged from the Reuters report that would advance what we already know.
In respect to the Banks: Back in February we posted a report titled "Apple Working with UnionPay and Chinese Authorities to get Apple Pay in line with Banking Standards & Beyond." In that report we specifically pointed to the fact that Apple Pay had to comply with a central bank rule that restricts electronic payment systems to those using chips that meet a technical standard called PBOC 3.0. A source familiar with Apple Pay said iPhone chips that drive the payment system didn't fully comply with this standard." Other sticking points with the banks in China included their demand that Apple open a mainland data center and that profit-sharing had to be more favorable for them.
In respect to Alibaba: In November we posted a report titled "Alibaba Executive Talks about a Possible Apple Pay Alliance." Until last night, there had been no word on the progress on that front and honestly nothing surfaced in the Reuters report to show tangible progress of any kind.
Reuters noted that Apple's CEO Tim Cook told Xinhua that "We very much want to get Apple Pay in China" and that he was very bullish on Apple Pay in China – but again nothing of value surfaced. Though in the big picture, Apple's CEO isn't one to make a statement unless he's relatively certain that Apple had made some progress behind the scenes.
If Cook is bullish, then we should hear more about Apple Pay in China over the next several months. Will Cook reserve any breakthrough statement for his World Wide Developer Conference keynote next month or will we have to wait until September? Only time will tell.