Chinese telecom operator China Unicom announced today a mobile payment service. China Unicom users, apart from downloading the app into their phones, can choose to have the service pre-installed in an SIM card or visit Unicom stores to add it into an existing SIM card.

It works like Alipay Wallet. Bank accounts and transportation cards can be bundled for a variety of digital payments. Fuel card, membership cards or e-coupons issued by merchants, and the like will be available later.

China Unicom is testing the service in Beijing, Guangdong province, Fujian province and Jiangsu province.

In 2012, Unicom launched NFC-based mobile payments solution together with China Merchants Bank. However, it’s not prevailing in China as only a very small number of merchants or services accept NFC-based mobile payments and only a few smartphone models on China market are NFC-enabled.

Of the three Chinese telecom operators, China Unicom moves the fastest transforming from a conventional basic service provider to a mobile Internet service provider. Earlier this year it jointly launched a customized SIM card with WeChat, currently the hottest mobile app in China, that charges users monthly fees for premium offerings provided by Unicom and WeChat.

The company saw a 54% year-over-year increase in net profit in the first half of 2013, largely thanks to 3G subscriptions and data sales.

Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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