Caixin OnlineFinance & EconomicsTop Stories Finance Sign-up Glitches Have Apple Pay off to Sour Start in China
02.18.2016 18:30

Sign-up Glitches Have Apple Pay off to Sour Start in China

Smartphone users report problems linking their phones to bankcards, a problem the U.S. company says is due to a large number of people registering
By staff reporters Han Yi, Zhang Yuzhe and Wang Xiaoqing
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(Beijing) – Smartphone users trying to sign up for Apple Inc. mobile payment service ran into problems on the first day it was available in China.

Apple Pay, a mobile payment service that allows users to wave their phones near point-of-sale terminals to complete purchases, became available to iPhone users in China on February 18, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

However, many users had trouble getting started.

"It kept telling me the phone 'cannot connect to Apple Pay' or the verification for the card is not available when I was linking a bankcard," said Duan Ge, a 31-year-old employee of a film production company.

Duan said he managed to link his debit card after about 30 minutes of trying, but later when he tried to register another credit card, he "could not even open the app."

Apple Pay entered the country through a partnership with UnionPay, Apple said in December, in a bid to challenge the dominance of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Some mobile payment experts argue that Apple Pay is a safer payment option than an Internet-based system because it uses near-field communication (NFC), a short-range wireless technology that lets Apple devices and banks exchange data. It is more difficult for hackers to abuse NFC technology, the experts say.

Only about 60 percent of POS terminals have near-field communication technology, Dong Junfeng, a vice manager of Bank of China's Internet finance department, wrote in a commentary published by Caixin.

"Not every business has the incentive to use Apple Pay, unless it can win support from businesses by subsidizing them, like Alipay does," he said.

Apple Pay is limited to users who have the iPhone 6 or 6s.

Nteen major banks, including the nation's biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, have agreed to let customers link their bankcards to Apple Pay, the company said.

Sixteen businesses in China, including convenience store 7-Eleven Inc., fast food restaurant McDonald's Corp. and supermarket Carrefour SA, accept Apple Pay, the company said. The payment service can also be used to buy movie tickets, book airplane tickets and have food delivered via mobile apps.

(Rewritten by Chen Na)

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