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Apple's iPhone loses out in new contactless payment support for Beijing public transit

Yikatong, the company handling payments for Beijing's public transit, this week enabled contactless payments for riders using Android — but has reportedly skipped support for the iPhone.

The core issue is that Apple doesn't allow NFC payments outside of Apple Pay, according to the Financial Times. That might have allowed payments through a Yikatong iPhone app, or common local platforms Alipay and WeChat Pay. Android phones by companies like Huawei and Xiaomi have no such restrictions on their NFC chips.

It's not clear why Beijing's transit isn't supporting Apple Pay directly. Apple is, however, in just fifth place in the Chinese smartphone market, and even more marginal in terms of the country's mobile transactions. Apple Pay has less than 1 percent marketshare, whereas over half of the market is controlled by Alibaba's Alipay.

Both Alipay and WeChat Pay normally rely on scanning QR codes, rather than NFC.

The Chinese situation sits in stark contrast with neighboring Japan, where Apple Pay is well-supported on public transit. The company has even used this as a marketing point for the iPhone 7.

Apple will be opening up NFC access on the iPhone by way of a new framework in iOS 11, Core NFC, but apparently only for purposes other than payments.