Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile payment service Apple Pay is set to launch in China later this week on Feb. 18. Reuters reports that bank representatives for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China confirmed the launch on social media.
The Mac maker has previously said that it expected Apple Pay to launch in China in early 2016, partnering with the country's dominant bank card network, so the upcoming rollout will deliver on that expectation. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest lender in The Middle Kingdom. Two other banks are also reportedly launching on Thursday as well.
Does it matter?
China will mark the fifth new country for Apple Pay as the company continues its global deployment. But China is easily among Apple's most important markets, particularly when it comes to future growth prospects. Tim Cook continues to reiterate his belief that China will eventually become the company's largest market.
But mobile payments are more common in China than in the U.S., and Apple will face plenty of competition from local incumbents. Many messaging platforms have integrated payments services very successfully in China. While Apple Pay won't be a direct driver for revenue growth, the payment service will certainly reinforce its broader ecosystem.