Huawei Partners with UnionPay International to Accelerate Huawei Pay’s Roll Out Worldwide
These days, it’s tough to think of a major smartphone manufacturer that doesn’t have its own mobile payments service. Apple has Apple Pay, Google has Google Pay, Samsung has Samsung Pay, and LG has LG Pay. Huawei is no exception — Huawei Pay launched in China in March 2016, and it gave Huawei the distinction of being one of the first Chinese mobile hardware vendors with a payments platform. But the company has grander ambitions. This week, Huawei announced that it’s teaming up with UnionPay International to help roll out Huawei Pay worldwide.
Huawei Pay, which is currently compatible with 20 of Huawei’s smartphones, is supported by 66 banks and was used to make 4 billion yuan (~$635 million) in payments last year. Its first new market will be Russia, which UnionPay dominates — the payments processor’s cards are accepted at 85 percent of terminals and ATMs in the country, 400,000 of which support NFC tap-and-pay technology. And next in line is Eastern Europe.
Huawei declined to provide a timeline for either launch.
Huawei also announced that in the future, Huawei and Honor phone users outside of China will be able to make contactless payments by adding their UnionBank cards in the Huawei Pay app.
“Open sharing is an important direction for the future of the digital economy and intellectual interconnection, which is why Huawei’s end-user cloud services built an open and globalized smart mobile ecosystem for the end-user experience” said Alex Zhang, president of Huawei’s Consumer Cloud Service, in a statement. “Huawei hopes to work with partners such as UnionPay International to provide more secure and convenient mobile payment services for every user of Huawei smart devices around the world.”
So why is Huawei pursuing Huawei Pay instead of adopting a cross-platform solution like Google Pay? While it might make sense for companies like Huawei to rely on Google services, there’s a lot of incentive for them to create their own. Android as is today relies heavily on Google and its services, and not every OEM is comfortable with the status quo. Some of them, such as Samsung, have resisted by creating apps and services that duplicate the functionality of Google’s own, and Huawei reportedly went so far as to develop its own mobile OS.
There’s also a lot of money in mobile payments. According to one study, the contactless payment market will be worth $17.56 billion by 2021. With Huawei Pay, Huawei’s hoping to get in on the ground floor.