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M-Payments Deal Report: Apple Pay, WeChat, Starbucks and Square

Some of the biggest players in the mobile payments space have announced deals that could bring digital payments and gifting to more consumers around the globe. Starbucks will provide “social gifting” and payments to users of China’s WeChat messaging service, while Square will integrate its digital debit cards with Apple Pay, two recent developments that could boost the popularity of mobile payments.

In the Starbucks deal, WeChat users by early 2017 will be able to send Starbucks digital gift cards to other WeChat consumers. WeChat was developed by China-based Tencent and launched in 2011. The WeChat social messaging app has some 846 million global monthly active user accounts. As well, users can now use WeChat to pay for Starbucks at its more than 2,500 stores in mainland China; it was unclear if and when that ability will be offered in other countries where consumers use WeChat.

“This new strategic partnership will leverage the strengths of both Starbucks and WeChat to create a true online-to-offline social gifting platform that will deepen our engagement with our customers in a unique and powerful way,” said Belinda Wong, Starbucks China CEO. “Just as Starbucks cards are among the most gifted around the globe, we aspire to also become the most gifted brand digitally in China.”

Meanwhile, Square CEO Jack Dorsey said his company’s digital debit cards—from which consumers use funds stored in their Square accounts—is now available on Apple Pay. That means Square accountholders can make purchases through the mobile wallet.

“I’ve been using this as my primary card for about two months,” Dorsey said at Recode’s Code Commerce event, adding that he now uses Square’s payment card for everything from Netflix to his Blue Bottle coffee, according to Recode.

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