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Apple is ‘working rapidly’ to launch Apple Pay in more countries in Asia and Europe


By John Russel for

Apple Pay may only be available in six countries right now, but the iPhone maker is keen to extend the footprint of the digital payment service worldwide.

That’s according to Jennifer Bailey, VP of Apple Pay, who spoke to TechCrunch this week as the service expanded its presence in Singapore, where it now supports five major banks that cover over 80 percent of cards, following an initial launch in April. Apple Pay is also live in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia and China, but there are plans to do a lot more.

“We’re working rapidly in Asia and also in Europe, our goal is to have Apple Pay in every significant market Apple is in,” Bailey told us.

Apple recently announced plans to expand the payment service to Hong Kong but, that aside, it is unclear which markets will be next. Back in February, leaks suggested that France, Hong Kong and Brazil are on Apple’s expansion list for this year, while Tim Cook this month hinted India is also in Apple’s thinking, but the company isn’t commenting on its plans.

“We have announced Hong Kong [and], across the [Asia Pacific] region, we’re talking to many partners and banks and evaluating how quickly we can bring Apple Pay to new markets,” former Netscape exec Bailey said.

Apple has focused on the most logical markets in Asia to date — China is the most populous country on the planet and a huge market for Apple, while Singapore and Hong Kong are small markets with many Western consumer traits — and Bailey shared some insight into what Apple seeks when assessing expansions.

“First, we look at the size of the market for Apple products,” she said. “We also look at credit and debit card penetration, and [existing] contactless payment coverage.

“[But] when we bring Apple Pay to market even when contactless is low it will grow — it was 4 percent in the U.S. but is now 20 percent. We also work with our network partners, where we can utilize integration with Amex and Visa, to go to market quickly.”

That focus on existing Apple customers makes sense, since they are the only ones who can use the technology, but it might rule out any immediate entry into countries in regions like Southeast Asia, where cheaper Android devices dominate Apple and others on marketshare.

Either way, Bailey said she is “really excited about the momentum” that Apple Pay has gathered in markets where it is live.

Bailey previously revealed that the service hit three million provisions inside its first three days in China, while, more generally, it is adding one million new users per week worldwide. Bailey didn’t offer new data for Apple Pay in China, but she did say that the service is “seeing incredible user and developer reception” with a number of prominent consumer tech companies integrating the service into their apps to enable digital payments.

“From all indicators the launch [in China] has been really successful,” she added.

Apple Pay now covers 2,500 bank locations in the U.S., up from an initial six, while in China the 12 it launched with in February is now 19. Even in existing markets where Apple Pay is live, there are more updates planned soon. Beyond adding support for more banks and cards, Apple is also focused on introducing loyalty programs for Apple Pay — having completed its first rollouts in the U.S.. Likewise, Apple Pay doesn’t support online/in-app payments in all markets, so that is also on the agenda.

That might just be the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this year, we reported that Apple Pay is coming to ATMs in the U.S. as it aims to grab a larger slice of the payments pie.

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