If Apple isn't quite ready to enter the mobile payments field in the U.S., it might be leaning toward China as its initial proving ground.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics giant has reached an agreement to provide a mobile payment service through China UnionPay, according to Brightwire News, a global investment wire service.
Citing an anonymous source, Brightwire says consumers in China would be able to download the UnionPay card application to the iPhone's Passbook and make mobile payments on more than 3 million China UnionPay QuickPass point of sale machines throughout the country.
Apple did not respond prior to deadline to a request to confirm or provide more details about a possible move into the China market.
UnionPay is reportedly seeking banking partners to support the mobile payment venture. In July 2013, UnionPay signed eight banks to participate in the launch of a contactless mobile payment system in Shanghai.
UnionPay is working with China Mobile on that project, which operates through Near Field Communication to make contactless payments. It stores bank-issued payment card credentials in a smartphone's secure element.
As part of its rumored deal with China, Apple agreed to include NFC in its next generation of iPhones, according to the website Patently Apple.
But Apple has long been rumored to be planning to include NFC in its phones, particularly as a new iPhone unveiling draws near. NFC wallets such as Isis have typically relied on add-on hardware such as an NFC-equipped phone case to enable mobile payments on iPhones.
Those investing in mobile payments in China are entering a growing market, as China's central bank has reported that more than half of the country's 1.35 billion people are already using mobile services. The bank also says the mobile payment market tripled between the second quarter of 2012 and second quarter of 2013.
Chinese consumers conducted more than 371 million transactions on mobile devices, totaling more than $340 billion, during the second quarter of 2013.
In addition to the China Mobile project, UnionPay International, a unit of ChinaUnionPay, recently entered into a partnership with Rev Worldwide to handle prepaid card issuance.