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Apple on Thursday announced they are partnering with China UnionPay to bring the Apple Pay contactless payments service to China in early 2016. China UnionPay cardholders will be able to use their bank cards to pay for merchandise and services via their iPhone or Apple Watch.

Apple Partners With China UnionPay to Bring Apple Pay to China

“China UnionPay is dedicated to promoting payment innovations and providing secure, convenient mobile payment experiences for its hundreds of millions of cardholders, aligning multiple parties in the industry,” said Chai Hongfeng, executive vice president of China UnionPay. “We’re very excited to offer Apple Pay among a diverse set of innovative payment options that work with China UnionPay QuickPass.”

“Apple Pay has revolutionized the way millions of people pay every day with their iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “China is an extremely important market for Apple and with China UnionPay and support from 15 of China’s leading banks, users will soon have a convenient, private and secure payment experience.”

Apple Pay customers in China will be able to use the service to make payments via UnionPay QuickPass-enabled point-of-sale terminals at participating stores.

The China UnionPay partnership is an important piece of the puzzle for Apple, as it works to expand its touchless payments service internationally. A partnership between the two parties has long been rumored, but recently rumors about the pending deal had increased in intensity.

Apple Pay is expected to roll out to China UnionPay cardholders as soon as early 2016 after “relevant tests and certification” have been performed as required by Chinese regulators, to ensure the service is in compliance with the applicable national mobile payment and financial industry standards in China.

In stores, Apple Pay works with iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. When paying within apps, Apple Pay is compatible with iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro.