OnePlus will focus on digital payments as well as 5G-enabled phones as the smartphone maker looks at further cementing its position in India. While it is already exporting 5G phones built out of India to some of its global markets, it is readying itself to launch the mobile payments system in India sometime next year, a top executive at the Chinese smartphone brand said.
“Payments is going to be a big focus for us next year, so also the 5G phones. We have already launched 5G-enabled phones in the US, Europe and China, and will soon launch in India,” said Vikas Agarwal, general manager, India at OnePlus.
The phone maker, which commands the highest market share in India in the premium smartphone category, is set to launch ‘OnePlus Pay’ early 2020.
Like OnePlus TV, the payments service may initially be launched only in India. The move will pit OnePlus against Google, Paytm and WhatsApp, which is rolling-out in-app payments over UPI. But unlike app businesses, OnePlus Pay is likely to offer more functionality because it owns the hardware.
The payments feature is likely to have NFC capability, enabling one-tap payment at newer versions of PoS (point of sale) devices. Given a seamless integration with the mobile device, OnePlus will push it as the preferred mode of payment for digital and even offline services.
"It (payments) will be seamlessly integrated with the smartphone to make the overall payment and smartphone experience better," said Agarwal.
In launching payments, OnePlus is following Samsung, Apple, and more recently Xiamoi that have payment services. However, none have been able to match the popularity of UPI-based apps.
OnePlus, which began assembling phones in India two years back, is developing 5G-enabled phones for India and other markets. For now, given that India does not have 5G connectivity, OnePlus is exporting the 5G-ready devices to select markets in US, China and Europe.
5G is the next big mobile network standard that is expected to make internet downloads and call quality significantly better. Indian telecom companies are currently piloting the technology but it won’t take off unless the government sells 2.4 GHz spectrum, meant for 5G, and telecom companies upgrade towers and other supporting infrastructure.
“Currently some trials are going on” said Agarwal. “We are working with some smartphone companies to test 5G spectrum network under lab conditions.”
With 35 per cent market share in India, OnePlus has cemented its standing in the country the five years it has been around. It has also squeezed Samsung and Apple which were until recently the leading premium smartphone brands.
Currently, 90 per cent of premium smartphone market is controlled by OnePlus, Samsung and Apple, though premium smartphones -- those in the price range of Rs 30,000 and above -- account for only 5 per cent of overall smartphone market in terms of sales volumes.
“Only in first quarter of last year, when we did not have a new launch, our competitors saw a spike in market share. But in the subsequent three quarters of last year, and this year since April, we have (positioned ourselves as the) largest selling brand,” said Agarwal.
With the launch of its smart TV in October, OnePlus is creating a play in consumer devices. It has also launched wireless headphone accessories. “We are looking at more IoT devices we can launch from out end,” said Agarwal.