China is making significant moves towards widespread uptake of remote SIM provisioning and eSIM technology with progress made by operators, vendors and manufacturers to drive use in smartwatches and the IoT sectors, a new GSMA Intelligence (GSMAi) report found.

eSIM in China: The Road Ahead was written in partnership with China’s Telecommunication Terminal Industry Forum Association and included insight from the country’s three mobile operators: China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. It assessed the current state of the market and opportunities for future growth.

Although eSIM technology is yet to be formally adopted in the country for smartphones, a move that would require a change in regulation, the report found significant traction in usage for smartwatches and other consumer electronics.

There is, however, significant interest from the country’s handset manufacturers, authorities and three mobile operators.

GSMAi forecasts between 25 and 40 per cent of the country’s smartphone connections will use eSIM technology by 2025, making China the world leader in the technology.

China is expected to launch the service later than other leading markets, but GSMAi said it will catch-up in the medium term and eSIM will support a fifth of the world’s smartphone by 2025.

To achieve this lofty target, a number of changes will be required and regulations altered. However, GSMAi noted authorities had already made “significant efforts” to set framework for adoption of the technology for a number of other use cases.

In addition to handsets and wearables, the report pointed to the vast potential of the technology in the IoT sector.

According to GSMAi, current uptake is low compared to its long-term potential although automotive, logistics and utilities were noted as the top industry verticals for the technology.

GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said: “In China and around the world, the huge adoption of eSIM technologies has been underpinned by the GSMA’s common and interoperable specification that is reducing fragmentation and delivering a consistent consumer experience. From consumer electronics to automotive we are seeing a diverse array of products hitting the market utilising the benefits of connectivity and bringing consumers choice.”