Apple restarts talks for Apple Pay launch in India

Apple has engaged with many Indian authorities and officials in recent weeks and plans to soon hold conversations with NPCI for the launch of its payments service Apple Pay in the South Asian market, according to two people familiar with the matter, eyeing an entrance into a crowded space that is dominated by Walmart’s PhonePe, Google’s GPay and Paytm.

The company, whose chief executive Tim Cook met with bankers during his recent visit to India, is working on a localized version of Apple Pay that works atop of UPI, a popular payments mode in the South Asian market, people familiar with the matter said. NPCI, a special division of India’s central bank Reserve Bank of India, oversees the UPI platform.

Apple wants iPhone customers in India to be able to scan QR codes and initiate UPI transactions without having to use any PSP app, the people said, requesting anonymity in discussing nonpublic matters.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on May 24.

The iPhone-maker, which debut its first set of retail stores in India in April this year, has held several conversations about launching Apple Pay with the authorities over the years. Company’s executives told press over six years ago that Apple plans to bring Apple Pay to the country — and never followed up.

During its recent conversations with some Indian authorities, Apple suggested that Apple Pay could have the ability to use Face ID for UPI authentication on iPhones, according to one person familiar with the matter.

The company has yet to make a final decision on its partners and launch date, the people cautioned, suggesting that a launch is likely still a few quarters away.

India is a tiny market for Apple and a possible launch of Apple Pay is unlikely to disrupt incumbents in the ecosystem, which processes over 8 billion transactions a month on the UPI platform. More than 90% of all smartphones in use in India run Android.

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