Apple seeks to launch Apple Pay in China by February

BEIJING—Apple Inc. seeks by early February to launch its new Apple Pay electronic-payment service in China—a vibrant but fiercely competitive market for digital money—according to people familiar with its discussions.The Cupertino, Calif., company has struck deals recently with China’s big four state-run banks, the people said, by which potential Apple Pay users could link the service with their local bank accounts.

Apple Pay could still face regulatory hurdles in China, where banking and e-commerce are overseen by a number of government agencies, the people said. Apple hopes to launch before Feb. 8, China’s Spring Festival holiday.How much Apple would charge for purchases made through Apple Pay has been a sticking point, say the people involved with the discussions. In the U.S. it gets 0.15% of all credit-card transactions and 0.5 cents per debit transaction, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. Press officials for two of China’s big four state banks, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Ltd., declined to comment. Press officials for the other two, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of China Ltd. didn’t respond to requests for comment.