Tim Cook, who is currently in China to promote Apple's environmental initiatives in the country, shared details on plans to launch Apple Pay in the region.

Apple is currently negotiating with banks like UnionPay in the country as well as Alibaba, the largest e-commerce portal in China.

Speaking to China's Xinhua news agency, Tim Cook said:

We very much want to get Apple Pay in China. I'm very bullish on Apple Pay in China.

Alibaba was in discussions with Apple over the launch of Apple Pay in China last year, with the company's founder Jack Ma stating that he would be interested in a possible collaboration. Although both companies met, nothing was officially announced.

While Alibaba will no doubt be a key partner, a deal with UnionPay is needed for the program to take off in China, given that the bank is the only entity in China that handles inter-bank transfers, and has the necessary NFC-enabled network to handle contactless payments. Apple was in talks with several Chinese banks — including UnionPay — earlier this year, but an agreement was not reached.

Cook also shared plans regarding Apple's retail footprint in the country, stating that the company is targeting 40 Apple Stores by mid-2016, almost double that of the 22 stores currently present in China:

Forty is a good objective for us for mid next year.That is not where we want to end. We'll keep adding from there.

Source: Xinhua (iCrossChina)