Apple Pay's Coming to Canada with Amex Only

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Apple Pay will launch in Canada later this year with American Express — and no other issuers named for the mobile wallet's launch in the region.

The move is in stark contrast to Apple Pay's launch in the U.S. and the U.K., where the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant lined up a wealth of bank and network partners ahead of Apple Pay's reveal. Apple's mobile wallet will also launch in Australia this year and will come to Spain, Singapore, and Hong Kong in 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook said during an earnings call Tuesday evening.

The Canadian launch sets up a possible rivalry between Apple and the country's banks, since there's a mismatch between smartphone penetration and Apple Pay's limited initial coverage. While iPhones have a 40% share of the smartphone market in Canada, bank-issued Visa and MasterCard accounts have an 18-to-1 advantage over American Express cards in Canada, according to the Globe and Mail. Banks do not issue American Express cards in Canada.

Other mobile wallet ventures in Canada include suretap, which is supported by most of the country's telcos and CIBC but is not available on Apple handsets. There is also the bank-branded wallet from RBC, which uses the carrier-agnostic host card emulation technology to execute payments on compatible Android devices.

Cook did not mention other banks during Tuesday's earnings call, and Apple did not return a request for comment. Though Apple typically lines up more partners before bringing Apple Pay to a new region, it's not unusual for Apple Pay to launch with less than full market support. In the U.S., Discover joined about half a year after Visa, MasterCard and Amex did. In the U.K., Apple Pay launched with support from eight of the country's largest card issuers but Barclaycard was a conspicuous holdout.

"Apple Pay is seeing double-digit growth in transaction month after month, and we continue to add major businesses including Starbucks, which will rollout Apple Pay support to all its U.S. stores in 2016," Cook said during the earnings call. "Apple Pay now supports merchant rewards programs as well and popular retailers will be coming online in the next few weeks."

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Apple reported revenue of $51.5 billion and net profit of $11.1 billion, compared to $42.1 billion and $8.5 billion the prior year.

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