China Unicom relaunches payment database tender after failing to attract bidders

China Unicom will have to re-tender for the construction of a third-party payment platform database that it hopes will help it comply with China’s changing data regime, after having failed to attract enough viable offers.

The company, one of China’s ‘big three’ public telecom operators, failed to attract bids from enough local firms eligible to build the database, after capping bids at one million yuan ($150,000), according to an announcement last week.

According to Chinese law, a company must stop and restart its open bidding if there are fewer than three bidders.

Unicompay is a relatively small player in a market dominated by e-wallets from Tencent and Alibaba. Established in 2011, its client “WO Wallet” is licensed by the People’s Bank of China.

China Unicom issued the tender in April, saying the database planned for its Unicompay unit’s Wo Wallet payment platform should be compatible with both an open-source database management system. foreign-made, MySQL, and with domestically designed solutions.

Chinese government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been trying for years to reduce their reliance on foreign-made information technology systems. This dynamic has deepened as geopolitical tensions have continued to rise, particularly with the United States, and the importance of China’s data industry has grown.

Currently, China Unicom’s online payment databases are based on MySQL and commercial systems made by US-based Oracle Corp., but Caixin understands the tender is part of plans to transfer their data to locally developed systems.

Asked by Caixin, a Beijing-based industry insider said the 1 million yuan cap was “too low” to cover database deployment and maintenance costs. There are undoubtedly more than three vendors who can meet the requirements, including Alibaba and Huawei, they said.

A source familiar with the matter told Caixin that a handful of database developers had bid for the project, but they did not meet the selection criteria. The person declined to name the companies.

The value of China’s database market is expected to reach 68.8 billion yuan by 2025 with an expected compound annual growth rate of 23.45%, according to the Chinese Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government-backed think tank.

Contact reporter Ding Yi ([email protected]) and editors Joshua Dummer ([email protected]) and Flynn Murphy ([email protected])

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Elaine R. Knight