Huawei has shown how China might go about spreading its digital currency: by baking it into local smartphones.
A late Friday post to the company’s Weibo account revealed that Huawei’s flagship Mate 40 handset includes a wallet for the new digital currency.
The Weibo post seems to suggest that the Digital Yuan wallet co-exists alongside the Huawei Pay wallet app, with users offered the chance to use whichever digital currency takes their fancy.
The Mate 40 has turned heads with its impressive specs, even as analysts warn that US trade restrictions mean it could be the last Huawei device to match it with premium offerings from the likes of Samsung and Apple.
Beijing surely recognises that wide distribution of devices ready to transact the Digital Yuan will be critical. Which is where things get interesting because recent analyst data suggests that Huawei’s smartphone sales have slumped everywhere, including inside China.
On the upside, the mere fact that Huawei sees adding a Digital Yuan app as worthwhile – or inevitable - suggests other Chinese handset-makers won’t be far behind and that plenty of citizens will be able to use the new currency.
Even if future made-in-China phones from Huawei and others pack less powerful components, leading-edge components and colossal screens aren’t essential to cope with the QR codes and NFC connections that drive digital payments.
Or perhaps the Mate40 has added the wallet precisely because it’s an offering to match the phone’s premium status, which would represent a different but equally interesting development in Beijing’s digital currency plans. ®
Bootonote: Huawei’s Weibo post is here and we’ve placed it in a Bootnote rather than in the body of the story because viewing Weibo material nearly always requires a sign-in and the platform is almost certainly monitored by Chinese authorities.