China’s Huawei Technologies, the world’s No 2 smartphone vendor, has launched its Huawei Pay service in Singapore in collaboration with China’s UnionPay in the latest effort to expand the service globally.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Singapore was the first bank to support the service in the island nation, according to a post on Huawei’s website last Friday.

UnionPay, mainland China’s dominant bank card clearing service provider, said in a statement on Monday that Huawei Pay would work with a large number of merchants, including supermarket group NTUC FairPrice, stores under retail group Dairy Farm Group, as well as nearly 10,000 local taxis.

Huawei Technologies has launched its Huawei Pay service in Singapore in collaboration with China’s UnionPay. (Picture: Sam Tsang/SCMP)

Almost all of Singapore’s ATMs and more than 90% of the country’s merchants already support UnionPay cards, according to UnionPay.

Huawei will face stiff competition in Singapore’s fragmented mobile payments sector, with local platforms such as GrabPay, FavePay and PayNow competing with Chinese operators such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Alipay is a unit of Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group which owns the South China Morning Post.

Singapore’s total digital payment transactions will reach US$14.3 billion this year and are expected to grow to US$19.2 billion by 2023, according to data from market research firm Statista.

In 2016 Huawei joined UnionPay to introduce Huawei Pay in the China market and two years later the service was introduced to UnionPay cardholders in selected overseas markets, including Russia, Hong Kong and Pakistan.

Huawei Pay employs biometrics and near-field communication technology to enable in-store payments using Huawei phones. Users complete their transactions by tapping their Huawei device near the Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal instead of their credit cards.

“During the special period amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the launch of Huawei Pay services via UnionPay mobile payment has provided Singapore residents with safe and secure payment options to help them better prevent the pandemic,” UnionPay said in the statement.

Huawei Pay’s global push comes as consumers in China and around the world are increasingly using smartphones to settle in-store payments. Users enable Huawei Pay by adding their bank cards to the Huawei Wallet app, which is preloaded on the newly launched Huawei P40 series of smartphones.

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post.)