China’s Mobile Payments Market Heats up as Xiaomi Preps New Service
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is planning to launch an NFC mobile payments service in the country, leveraging its position as China’s largest phone manufacturer to compete in an increasingly crowded mobile payments market. Xiaomi is collaborating with China UnionPay to launch the service, which will incorporate payment cards from UnionPay, the country’s largest payment network, according to a report from the South China Morning Post. No release date has been revealed for the service, which will be available on Xiaomi’s flagship Mi 5 handset model, the report said. Earlier this year, Xiaomi acquired a majority stake in Jiefu Ruitong, a Chinese Internet payments company that is licensed by the country’s government to provide mobile payments.
Competition in China’s mobile payments market is heating up. Along with homegrown providers including payments giants Alipay and Tencent, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay also have recently launched in China. And state-run UnionPay—which also partnered with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay—unveiled a mobile payments service of its own late last year. But Xiaomi’s large presence as a handset manufacturer could serve as an effective beachhead from which to launch its mobile payment service. The company was the largest smartphone vendor in China last year, according to market research firm IDC, shipping nearly 65 million units, slightly ahead of Apple and Huawei. Meanwhile, the sheer size of the Chinese market could mean there’s room for a number of players; mobile payments volume exceeded $3.5 trillion in the country last year, according to China’s central bank.