Apple Pay is set to launch in China for the first time after the tech giant teamed up with China's state-owned bankcard association, China UnionPay.

Subjecct to approval, Apple said the service will be available to China UnionPay customers as early as 2016.

Apple Pay's biggest rival will be Alibaba's Alipay, which dominates the electronic payments market in China. It is the latest move by Apple to increase its standing in one of the world's fastest growing markets for tech products.

UnionPay executive vice president Chai Hongfeng said the deal would give its customers "secure, convenient mobile payment experiences for its hundreds of millions of cardholders, aligning multiple parties in the industry".

He added: "We're very excited to offer Apple Pay among a diverse set of innovative payment options that work with China UnionPay QuickPass."

On Thursday, UK-based Powa Technologies announced a joint venture with UnionPay Network Payments, which is owned by China UnionPay, which it believes could generate revenues worth £3.3 billion.