Apple has had to work hard to promote Apple Pay in China due to the popularity of existing, local mobile wallet apps like WeChat Pat and Alipay.

The company had already bowed to the inevitable in allowing local apps to be used for online payments, but is now set to go even further …

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has announced that its mobile wallet app Alipay is to be accepted in physical Apple Stores in the country. This would be the first time Apple has allowed retail store purchases to be made with a third-party mobile wallet app.

Reuters reports that Apple agreed to the deal to help it return to growth in the country.

Apple Inc will accept Chinese mobile payment app Alipay in its local stores, boosting its ties with giant e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd amid a push by the iPhone maker to revive growth in the world’s No.2 economy […]

The Cupertino-based firm will accept Alipay payment across its 41 brick-and-mortar retail stores in China, said Ant Financial, which was valued at $60 billion in 2016.

Alipay is the most popular mobile wallet app in China, with WeChat taking second place and Apple Pay a long way behind. CNET notes that Alipay accounts for 61.5% of the $9T of Chinese mobile payment transactions in 2016.

“This is a classic case of ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do,'” said Counterpoint research analyst Neil Shah. “This should definitely make users as well as overall government happy, as foreign brands start embracing popular localized services.”

Apple is having to make increasing accommodations in China in response to local laws and economic realities.

Complying with local laws has involved removing apps from its local App Store – more than 400 VPN apps as well as Skype and the New York Times app; allowing government-owned businesses joint access to its local servers; and cutting LTE access to the Apple Watch Series 3.

On the commercial front, Apple has had to support both Alipay and WeChat as payment methods in the country, as well as accommodate WeChat tipping.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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