Following its acquisition of Sharelink, a Shenzhen-based mobile payment company, in early 2021, Huawei has surprised the market by launching a new offensive into China’s mobile payment market.
Currently, the Chinese market has been dominated by Alibaba Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay. As the first Chinese digital wallet using near-field communication (NFC), Huawei Pay was launched in 2016, relying on the channel of UnionPay – a Chinese state-owned financial service. In 2018, Huawei further cooperated with UnionPay International to roll out its service worldwide, with Russia being its first overseas market. UnionPay itself entered the Russian market in the same year, following Alipay’s entry in 2017. Together with UnionPay, Huawei Pay also sought a presence in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Powered by its large ecosystem built on HarmonyOS, Huawei is now strengthening its mobile payment effort by revealing the new function “Huawei Zhifu” prior to its annual develop conference. The acquisition of Sharelink, which already obtained a mobile payment licence, facilitated the process, reducing Huawei’s dependence on UnionPay.
The duopoly of Alipay and WeChat Pay, with a total 90% market share, is difficult to break. However, the Chinese government’s latest anti-monopoly push has gradually improved the interoperability among its rivalling Big Tech platforms, leaving a gap open for Huawei. In addition, Huawei Zhifu will also contribute to the construction of HarmonyOS ecosystem.
So far, Huawei has made no official announcement on its latest mobile payment project.