China Mobile, China’s largest telecom operator by subscriber base, disclosed recently that its direct billing will be available for purchases on Apple’s App Store in near future. It is reported that China Mobile will take 15% of the total sales generated through this payment option. (report in Chinese)

Currently App Store supports credit card and prepayments through online banking, both of which are not widely used by Chinese for micropayments online.

Alipay, one of the most widely adopted online payment services in China, isn’t available for Apple services. It’s not that it’s difficult to introduce Alipay or other local online payment services — Shortly after Uber entered China market, Alipay was added as a payment option for the taxi service.

Direct carrier billing, which was the only mobile payment option long before Internet-enabled payment services emerged in China, has been well accepted in China. And it’s considered very convenient.

However, direct billing hasn’t been available for App Store purchases although China Unicom and China Telecom, the other two Chinese carriers, introduced iPhone way earlier than did China Mobile.

China Mobile began selling iPhones as lately as in early this year. It is expected its huge user base would boost adoption of iPhones and other Apple mobile devices in China.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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