Mobile Commerce

The Mobile Pay Option That Pays Back

Chinese electronics company Xiaomi is putting its money where its — well, where its wallet is.

During a Connector Event presentation in Beijing on Tuesday (March 17), Xiaomi President Bin Lin introduced a new aspect of the company’s mobile wallet: when users in China transfer money to it from their bank accounts, they can earn an interest rate of 3.058 percent.

As reported by Re/code (which co-sponsored the event), Lin was careful to express that the interest-bearing feature of the Xiaomi mobile wallet is not an indication that the company has plans to move into the banking business. He stated that the mobile wallet is simply a service to its customers.

Additionally, Lin said that Xiaomi does not yet have plans in place to fold (or unfold?) its mobile wallet into a mobile payments program like Apple Pay.

“In China, it isn’t consumer behavior to pay with a phone-swiping yet,” he explained to Re/code founder Walt Mossberg during the presentation.

Although Xiaomi is a relatively young company, Re/code notes, it dominates the smartphone market in China and is the most valuable technology startup in the world, currently appraised at $46 billion.

In addition to its mobile wallet, Xiaomi has a stake in other technologies, like a smartphone-connected fitness band and a high-storage-capacity multimedia television.

According to Lin, says Re/code, the first breakthrough Chinese product will reach America in three to five years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he believes that it will be one of Xiaomi’s: its big-screen smartphone, the Mi Note.

Re/code points out that before Xiaomi can enter the U.S. marketplace, however, it will need to put in place a call-center support infrastructure for online buyers.

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