Amsterdam- and Beijing-based BTC.com has made history by becoming the first bitcoin wallet to debut on no. 2 smartphone maker Huawei’s recently-launched app store.
A joint censorship effort between the Chinese government and telecom companies has blocked the Google App Store to Android mobile users amid what’s been dubbed “China’s great firewall,” making it difficult for many Chinese residents to access mobile cryptocurrency wallets.
There’s also a rift between US intelligence agencies and Huawei amid a lack of trust surrounding transparency in the smartphone maker’s government ties.
The launch of BTC.com, which has transacted billions of USD worth of BTC and BCH over the past few years, on Huawei paves the way for many Chinese smartphone owners to gain first-time access to a mobile bitcoin wallet.
Consumers who purchase a new Huawei or Honor smartphone from the P20 and up will have the Huawei app store automatically installed on their device, while previous models will begin gaining access to it later in the current quarter. Huawei phone users will be in for a surprise when downloading the bitcoin wallet from the App Gallery, as BTC.com — which is owned by China-based cryptocurrency miner manufacturer Bitmain — is running a promotion in which it will “gift a starting amount of cryptocurrency.”
“BTC.com is democratizing Bitcoin by breaking down barriers to entry and ensuring new users can access Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash in a simple, secure and trusted environment,” according to BTC.com’s Alejandro de la Torre, vice president of Business Operations, in a press release.
China is a global leader in mobile payments with apps like WeChat and AliPay leading the way. But the government has taken a hard line on the cryptocurrency industry, as evidenced by its banning of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and local bitcoin exchanges from operating in the mainland, not to mention its crackdown on bitcoin mining, which is a feature on the BTC.com platform. Nonetheless, BTC.com’s de la Torre recognizes “the amazing opportunity cryptocurrencies have in replacing fiat currency as the currency of choice for mobile payments” in China. Huawei execs have a similarly ambitious view.
Huawei and BTC.com couldn’t wait on the sidelines as more than 90% of China’s internet users go online via their mobile device. In fact, mobile phone usage is poised to surpass watching television among China’s population this year, according to eMarketer.
And China like India is almost entirely cashless. The companies want to usher in “millions of new cryptocurrency users” and make it easy for them to send or receive BTC and BCH among friends. Consumers can also join a bitcoin mining pool that’s backed by industry leader Bitmain.
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