Huawei Pay set to launch in South Africa later this year

huawei p20 pro front stock huawei pay

Hold onto your credit cards, folks. If all goes to plan, Huawei Pay will be coming to South Africa in the second half of the year, the company’s Gene Jiao confirmed to Memeburn in an interview.

Speaking on Thursday at the P20 launch in Johannesburg, Jiao — the president of Huawei Consumer Business Group in the MEA region — revealed that the firm plans to rollout its mobile payments platform to South Africa in the coming months.

The news echoes Huawei’s earlier announcement in March of a forthcoming mobile payments offering for South Africa, alongside a standalone app store, streaming music service, and a cloud service.

“Our plan is in the second half of the year, we’ll have it on our flagship phones,” Jiao confirmed.

Huawei Pay in a nutshell

Huawei Pay, which launched in China in 2016, allows consumers to tap their devices to consoles at supported tellers, effectively paying for items wirelessly without the need to fumble through credit cards or count cash.

The company also expressly refers to the system as a “security chip-based mobile payment service”, utilising the company’s new chipsets — namely the Kirin 970 — to better support the payment platform’s security and processing power requirements.

This neatly falls in line with the launch of the company’s new P20 smartphone series.

The testing phase, and the possible partnerships

But enabling the service in South Africa is seemingly not not as simple as flicking a switch.

Currently Huawei Pay is undergoing “testing” alongside “big transaction companies”, MasterCard and Visa, Jiao told Memeburn.

This revelation also comes after the company in January signed a cooperation agreement with Chinese financial services giant UnionPay, which saw the extension of the service to its second country, Russia.

“Currently, UnionPay bank cards are accepted at 85% of POS terminals and ATMs in Russia, with over 400 000 POS terminals accepting UnionPay mobile contactless payment,” Huawei wrote in the announcement.

Interestingly enough, South Africa’s Standard Bank in February quietly signed an agreement with UnionPay, allowing the bank to issue the company’s cards on the African continent. Huawei and Standard Bank are also no strangers to one another, with the two companies striking “strategic partnerships” in the not too distant past.

Jiao did note that Huawei does not want to rush the launch of Pay citing “user experience” as a key factor.

Peer-to-peer payments and cryptocurrencies

When asked about peer-to-peer payments — akin to Apple iMessage or WeChat Wallet — Jiao didn’t deny that said transactions won’t be supported through Huawei Pay, but resisted commenting on the question fully.

“At this stage I couldn’t [say],” he admitted.

Nevertheless, the Huawei MEA boss didn’t rubbish the idea that cryptocurrencies could make the future supported list too, suggesting that the company will consider the payment methods and scenarios that consumers find convenient.

South Africa’s future mobile payments market mayhem

While the Huawei P20 series — including the Lite, Pro and Mate RS variants — comes preloaded with the Huawei Pay app, it doesn’t yet function in South Africa. Should Huawei Pay launch in the latter half of 2018 as planned though, it could kick off a flurry of knee-jerk activity from its contemporaries.

Samsung Pay — which is also currently installed on the Galaxy S8 and newer flagship devices as a system app — has also yet to go live in South Africa.

Google and Apple also has their own payment systems, but again, they’re only operational in a handful of countries excluding South Africa.

The Huawei P20 series is available to purchase in South Africa from today, a little over a week after its global launch.

Feature image: Huawei

Andy Walker
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