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Apple Pay to land in the UK in July

The beachhead outside the US marks a major step for Apple's mobile payments system as it faces competition from Samsung Pay and Google's Android Pay.

Apple Pay is expanding its territorial reach from the US to the UK. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple Pay is heading across the Atlantic Ocean.

The mobile payments service will arrive in the United Kingdom next month, Apple announced Monday. It will be available at more than 250,000 locations in the UK, said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay business, during the keynote address that opened the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

That's more locations than at the service's launch in the US last fall.

Apple Pay will launch with eight of the UK's most popular banks, followed by more this fall, and it will also support more than 70 percent of credit and debit cards in the UK, Bailey said. Major retailers including Boots, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, and London's public transport system, will also be using the debit and credit card payment system, she added.

"We told you last year our goal is to replace the wallet," Bailey said. "We couldn't be happier with our progress."

Apple Pay launched in the US in October as Apple's first venture into contactless mobile payments. Using an iPhone 6 , iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch , people can pay for items on the go at supported retailers via NFC (near-field communication) technology. Apple has been drumming up support for Apple Pay among more and more banks and retailers in the US, but to truly gain a foothold on the market, Apple Pay needs to expand globally, especially as rivals services such as Samsung Pay and Google's Android Pay start to ramp up.

Expanding Apple Pay globally is more of a challenge than it may sound. Reports have surfaced that Apple has also been chatting with banking and financial firms in China and Canada about supporting the payments system. However, there are obstacles.

Apple gets a 0.15 percent cut of the 2 percent fee paid by retail merchants for each credit card payment and half a penny for each debit card payment conducted through Apple Pay. But Chinese banks don't want to give that percentage to Apple, an employee of one large bank told MarketWatch in April. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in May that he was "very bullish on Apple Pay in China" but revealed no details as to how negotiations were proceeding.

Apple Pay has found a footing. As of March, it worked at more than 700,000 sites, including retail outlets, vending machines and parking meters.

With reporting by CNET contributor Lance Whitney.