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A worker demonstrates Apple Pay inside a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo to demonstrate the new Apple Pay mobile payment system on Oct. 20, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple Pay could use some Chinese New Year luck.

The mobile payment service is running into trouble with UnionPay, China’s state-owned credit- and debit-card operator. Talks between Apple and UnionPay have stalled, MarketWatch reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources close to the two companies.

The trouble reportedly arose due to tensions between Apple Pay’s own near-field communication (NFC)—the technology that allows users to pay using contactless readers—and UnionPay’s control of China’s only NFC-like system.

“Apple is seeking to cooperate with Chinese financial institutions,” but has not “acknowledged regulators,” a People’s Bank of China official said. The official added that it’s “unclear whether the product meets the government’s requirements.”

Apple might be able to find a workaround—and a better strategy—by swapping NFC for QR codes, a mobile payment system using scanned barcodes, which Chinese shoppers prefer over NFC. Apple said last year it was in talks with Alibaba’s Alipay, a mobile payment system that uses QR codes, sparking rumors that Alipay might be Apple Pay’s ticket into China.



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