Apple teams with Ant Financial, banks for interest-free iPhone financing in China

Apple Inc. has teamed up with Chinese payments giant Ant Financial Services Group and several local banks to offer interest-free financing. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Apple teams with Ant Financial, banks for interest-free iPhone financing in China

SHANGHAI: Apple Inc. has teamed up with Chinese payments giant Ant Financial Services Group and several local banks to offer interest-free financing, its first such move in the country as it looks to boost waning smartphone sales.
The US tech behemoth issued a rare revenue warning last month citing weaker iPhone sales in China, one of its most important markets, where consumer spending has taken a hit due to a slowdown in economic growth. 
On its China website, Apple is promoting the new scheme, under which customers can pay 271 yuan ($40.31) each month to purchase an iPhone XR, and 362 yuan each month for an iPhone XS. Customers trading in old models can get cheaper installments.
Users buying products worth a minimum of 4,000 yuan worth from Apple would qualify for interest-free financing that can be paid over three, six, nine, 12 or 24 months, the website shows.
The 64GB versions of iPhone’s XR and XS models sell at official sticker prices of 6,499 yuan and 8,699, respectively.
Apple is offering the plan through Huabei, a consumer credit service run by Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Apple’s China website shows.
Apple and Ant Financial declined to comment on the scheme.
China Construction Bank Corp, China Merchants Bank Co. Ltd, Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Industrial and Commercial bank of China Ltd. also offer financing schemes for Apple products, with minimum purchases of 300 yuan, Apple’s China website shows.
Apple is facing headwinds in China where economic growth slowed in 2018 to the weakest pace in 28 years, exacerbated by a crippling trade war with the United States. The US company is also battling mounting competition from Chinese handset makers.
Several Chinese electronics retailers including Alibaba-backed Suning and JD.com slashed iPhone prices recently, with discounts as steep as 20 percent.
Data from research firm IDC shows iPhone shipments to China fell 19.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018 versus a year earlier. Total smartphone shipments to the country were down 9.7 percent over the same period, although domestic brands such as Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo still grew market share.
Apple’s revenue for its Greater China region fell 27 percent year-on-year to $13 billion in the quarter ended December. CEO Tim Cook blamed macroeconomic conditions and currency fluctuations for Apple’s overall flagging growth.
The company has been sharpening its focus on its services business, including the App Store, mobile payments and music streaming, after the recent dip in iPhone sales that generates most of its profit.
It has teamed up with Goldman Sachs to issue credit cards that will be paired with iPhones and will help users manage their money, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. ($1 = 6.7227 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar)


Twitter triples first-quarter profit to $191 million

Updated 51 min 48 sec ago
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Twitter triples first-quarter profit to $191 million

  • Profits in the first quarter hit $191 million, compared with $61 million a year earlier
  • The longstanding metric of monthly active users was 330 million in the January-March period

WASHINGTON: Twitter said Tuesday its profits tripled in the past quarter even as it ramped up efforts to root out abuse and misconduct on its short messaging platform.
Profits in the first quarter hit $191 million, compared with $61 million a year earlier, while revenues increased 18 percent to $787 million.
Twitter’s global user base appeared to show modest growth even as the company transitions to a different way of measuring it.
The longstanding metric of monthly active users was 330 million in the January-March period, an increase of nine million from the past quarter but down slightly from a year ago.
But Twitter no longer will use that measure, switching instead to “monetizable” daily active users — 134 million in the past quarter, up from 120 million last year.
Chief executive Jack Dorsey said Twitter is benefiting from its moves to root out abusive and inauthentic content that had hurt Twitter’s reputation.
“We are taking a more proactive approach to reducing abuse and its effects on Twitter,” said Dorsey.
“We are reducing the burden on victims and, where possible, taking action before abuse is reported.”
He added that Twitter aims to become “more conversational” and has launched a prototype for a new app called “twttr,” with the goal of “making conversation on Twitter feel faster, more fluid and more fun.”