Chinese communications giant China Mobile and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China jointly released an e-CNY wallet based on the upgraded SMS service Message over 5G. The wallet allows users to transfer money, check balances, pay bills, and perform other functions through the chat window.

Fast facts

  • Message over 5G is an upgraded text message system that will allow users to message friends with not only text but also audio, video, location, and contact cards, just like on WeChat, China’s current most extensive instant messaging application. This upgrade is jointly launched by China’s three monopolistic state-owned telecom operators, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile.
  • But until now, the Message over 5G function has not been fully launched, and is only available on certain phones tailored to support it. Chinese state-owned media is now saying a full rollout will likely take place this month.
  • Currently, WeChat Pay and Alipay are still the two major mobile payment giants in China. In 2020, according to data from Statista, Alipay had more than 1.3 billion users in 2020, and the Business of Apps suggests the WeChat Pay had 900 million users.
  • China has a relatively high rate of mobile payment adoption. According to statistics from the People’s Bank of China, as of the end of 2020, China mobile payment services reached a total amount of 432.16 trillion yuan (equal to US$67 trillion). Meanwhile, according to a report from UK’s payment service provider WorldPay, in 2020, electronic/mobile wallet payments accounted for half of all consumer spending in China.