Update: Apple has since informed us that the comment by a local representative was not an official statement and has been mistranslated from the Chinese by Caixan. The correct information is that the ability to add cards was being made available on a rolling basis throughout the day.
With many Chinese iPhone owners reporting they they are unable to register for Apple Pay, an Apple
spokesman representative has said the issues are due to too many people trying to sign-up a planned gradual rollout throughout the day. Mashable reports that 38 million bank cards had been linked to Apple Pay by 5pm on launch day, 10M of them registered within the first hour.
Chinese site Caixin cited one example.
“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.”
Some had feared that Apple might face an uphill battle in persuading Chinese nationals to use the service, for two reasons …
First, unlike the U.S., mobile payment services were already in widespread use in China, giving people less reason to sign up to an additional one. Second, competing services like Alipay subsidize the equipment costs of businesses wanting to accept their payment service. Apple has so far only listed 16 companies as accepting Apple Pay in China, though these are big names like 7-Eleven, McDonalds and Carrefour.
Apple still has some way to go to catch up with Chinese market leader Alipay, reported to have 400M users, but getting close to 10% of that number on day one suggests that concerns about Apple’s ability to break into the market have likely been misplaced. Apple’s partnership with payment processor UnionPay gives it potential access to a staggering five billion credit cards.