How big a thing could Touch ID mobile payment be? China alone hit $1.6 trillion last year


With Tim Cook having as good as confirmed that mobile payment via Touch ID is on the way, numbers released by the People’s Bank of China and reported in TechNode provide an insight into just how big the mobile payment market could be. Total mobile payments in China last year hit 9.64 trillion yuan – equivalent to $1.59 trillion.

Mobile transactions on just one of China’s mobile payment services reached 25,000 per minute. While China has a population of 1.3B, contrasted with around 317M in the USA, and many of those in China use a mobile device as their primary Internet connection, it still illustrates what a huge opportunity iPhone-based payments could represent for Apple.

It’s been suggested that Apple’s approach may be to allow payment to be made via iTunes accounts, effectively turning Apple into a bank – a prediction I made last September. Using iTunes as a payment method would mean that customers would not have to hand over card details to retail stores. In the light of recent large scale card compromises at Neiman Marcus (1.1M cards) and Target (2M cards), this may well prove a strong reason for iPhone owners to use the service.


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  1. OneOkami (@OneOkami) - 9 years ago

    I’ve always been fascinated/passionate with the idea and application of biometric authentication (even did a whole Concept/Research paper on it when I was at University) and I for one would love a world that would allow me to authenticate physical as well and digital payments using such a means.

    I think there is tremendous potential here and Touch ID is a great foundation to build off of in iOS devices. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges in the adoption of this is support from retailers, though. But I do think if there is any company and family of devices with the potential to drive a widespread adoption and culture of biometric authenticated payments among consumers, it’s Apple and iOS devices.

    Really looking forward to upgrading my iPhone and iPad this for largely for Touch ID and I’m really hoping iOS 8 brings expanded application of it, both natively and through the developer API.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Yep, Apple has the clout to make this happen. Given both the size of the market and the demographic of iPhone owners, I’m confident it will take off.

  2. A.j. Weinzettel - 9 years ago

    As with everything Apple does, this will be a progressive technology over the years. It makes complete sense to use TouchID for payment. The current infrastructure of retail POS will need a complete overhaul though. What I see happening is Apple will test this technology in their stores, iron out any bugs, and then slowly roll it out to other stores like Nike and Gap. To see this type of technology in someplace like Target is going to be a pipe dream in the next 3-5 years. I see Square having a quicker impact in the mobile payment realm way before Apple will have the same sort of impact.

  3. Andrew (@adonis627) - 9 years ago

    Yen is the Japanese monetary unit. It’s “yuan”.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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