"Work or School account" option missing in chinese Android Authenticator App

Brass Contributor

Hi all, 

I am currently facing a mystery with Android phones in China. Users are able to download the Authenticator App from the store (ex Huawei AppGallery) but the "Work or School account" option does not exist in the add account pane.

I already read the documentation about Azure MFA in China but Microsoft don't mention such behavior:
Authenticator for Android in the public cloud in China 

Are you aware about such issue?


Android Sign in window.jpg

5 Replies

Here is the answer from Microsoft Support:

From the case description, the attached picture shows you cannot add work account in Android Authenticator in China.
I can’t be much help on this query, its bydesign that MS Authenticator does not work with Huawei phones on Enterprise level.

I’m sorry to say that this issue is due to some political reasons. The United States has stopped some related features of Huawei, and the work account cannot be added to the authenticator due to the above-mentioned reasons. We don’t want such a thing to happen, but it is true that this problem is an unexpected incident, hope you could understand.

Here are some workarounds,
1. Using other two-step verification method, e.g. phone call and SMS (However in China, this also has certain restrictions, because if you use phone verification, it will be blocked due to anti-fraud settings set by government)

2. Also noticed that there are other third-party authenticators that can perform verification services, but what we want to say is that we do not support any third-party services, if there is something wrong happened, we will not give any support services, you should go to the third-party and find the corresponding response.

OK fine, but it does not work on other Android phones too.

Anyone aware of an authenticator app working in China?

It could be because Microsoft Authenticator with App Notification on Android requires Google infrastructure for sending notifications and Google is prohibited/not active in China so it will not work. But I think you should still be able to use App a code...

MFA in China is notoriously complicated. The above and the fact OTP via text (SMS) also works ubreliably. I know several tech savvy users over there install the Authenticator from.an apk file and sole even use anonymous VPN to get the notifications.
If Microsoft does not provide a workaround, it is more than notoriously complicated, it is unusuable. China is the most populated country in the world, all the biggest companies work with or in China. If Azure MFA does not work in China, Azure MFA is pretty useless since it can't protect almost 1,5 billion of human being...
I don't recognize that our users in China with Android Authenticator are missing the "Work Accounts" option in Microsoft Authenticator. So even though App Notification would not work, they should be able to use the App Code. But still, we're having a hard time testing ourselves (since IT is not in China) and we don't have any onsite IT in China to answer or technical details.

But I agree, this is way to complicated for an ordinary user to comply with and I'm sure Microsoft would be able to work it out in China since they're not banned there.
Thanks Jonas for your reply
Do you mean your chinese users have the "Work or School Account" option in the Android Microsoft Authenticator app?