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Apple CEO Tim Cook bets big on Apple Pay in 'key market' China: 'It's going to be successful'

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Apple CEO Tim Cook is optimistic about Apple Pay's prospects in the Chinese market.

Cook, who just completed a four-day tour of the country, called China a "key market" and said that his company is focusing on bringing the online payment system to the country.

"We want to bring Apple Pay to China... I'm convinced there will be enough people that want to use it. It's going to be successful," says Cook.

"China is a really key market for us... Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list."

Before introducing the service to the country, Cook said that he plans on meeting with local banks, mobile service providers and merchants to formulate a strategy. Apple's new swipe-and-pay system was launched in the US this week. However, the feature was deactivated in iPhone 6 units that went on sale in China on Oct. 17. When Apple Pay gains approval from Chinese authorities, Apple is expected to unlock the feature through a software update. 

There's no official word on when Apple Pay would be released in the country, however, a report from Chinese media outlet Caixin Online predicted that the service would be available by March. 

Apple has not always had smooth relations with the country's officials. Last July, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, which is widely seen as a mouthpiece for the country's leadership, called iPhones a threat to national security due to its user location tracking features.

This time around, the level of pushback from officials regarding Apple Pay is expected to be less severe. Apple reportedly forged a deal with state-owned China UnionPay to bring the payment option to the country. The agreement is expected to boost Apple Pay adoption. China UnionPay, the main provider of debit and credit cards in the country, reportedly agreed to link Apple Pay to its cards. According to the Caixin report, the two sides are said to be working on a joint service that lets iPhone 6 users easily make payments at store checkout counters.

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