Ever since Apple Pay was launched earlier this year it has been rumored multiple times that Apple is working quite hard to bring its mobile payments service to China. The company first needs to ink alliances with local players in the market to ensure that Apple Pay has a chance of really succeeding in one of the most lucrative markets on the planet. According to a new report Apple and China UnionPay are inching ever closer to a formal agreement, the two parties apparently have a “preliminary” agreement already.

If a formal agreement is inked this would mean that Apple Pay would go live in China courtesy of UnionPay’s over five million NFC-capable point-of-sale terminals, which are crucial for making sure that Apple Pay hits the ground running.

The report from Bloomberg does mention that both companies are now waiting to receive input from card-issuing banks, they’re an important piece of the puzzle as well and they have to be onboard before Apple Pay can be launched in the country.

No agreements have reportedly been signed as yet with local banks with some of them believed to be concerned about Apple Pay’s fees and the relatively low number of users which might make the effort not that feasible in the short term.

Just yesterday it was reported that Apple Pay could arrive in China by February 2016 with The Wall Street Journal claiming that Apple has actually signed agreements with four state-run banks. Bloomberg’s report today contradicts that, but at least both agree on one thing, it’s only a matter of time before Apple Pay goes live in China.

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