Samsung launched Samsung Pay in South Korea on August 20, 2015.
It was Thursday.
One year, three months and 100 million transactions later the service is about to make a quantum leap in user experience as it's becoming available in three new countries at once and is about to start supporting online and in-app purchase as well as location-based deals and stuff. You wouldn't expect this from a company who's coming off such "burning" issues, yet we are.
Malaysia, Russia and Thailand have been added to the roster of countries supported by Samsung Pay, taking the number to ten by the end of 2016. We are not far from Apple's twelve supported countries, and considering Apple's starting advantage as market pioneer, it's fair to say that much has been done to rival (and, eventually, win) Cupertino's long arm.
A global partnership with Mastercard has also been announced, aiming at offering a seamless, unique, in-app solution for both online payment and express checkout inside Masterpass, Mastercard's mobile payment app, available in 33 countries at date. This partnership is expected to simplify by an order of magnitude the user experience of a Mastercard consumer: customers will be able to make a purchase from any device, combining the security and quick, automatic access to information stored on both Mastercard and Samsung Pay.
Most importantly, Samsung has signed the papers with financial partners Capital One and USAA, in order to support over half a thousand banks and credit unions, more than 85 percent of the US debit card and credit card market.
But what really makes Samsung Pay appealing in comparison with Android Pay and Apple Pay is the growth potential due to a unique, distinctive advantage that puts the South Korean's product in an unprecedented spot.
I don't know if you are European or not, nor I know the level of support to NFC in your country, but if your situation is similar to mine - I live in Italy - then you should have understood, since the first concept ideas of mobile payment Apple Pay style, than it's not coming to you. Apple Pay, same as Android Pay, has been conceived on top of USA-UK highly-efficient retail network, which knowingly is friendly to credit and debit card payments.
That's not the same in Europe - not even by far. Sooner I'll pay taxes in bitcoin than I'll be able to pay donuts via Apple Pay at a grocery store in my home town. The reason is crystal clear (to Europeans): the adoption rate of NFC in Europe is disappointing to say the least. Your local foodstore is probably not that interested in updating its POS - cash payment is the rule. And even if it's true that we Europeans are getting better (are we?), US visitors coming to Europe will still hear "Tips and warnings for travelers" concerning the usage of credits card in the old continent, often as Kafkaesque as "
How can a business say no, a US visitor will never get.
But the ending scenario instead is easy to imagine - in fact it's already happening: Apple is experiencing issues over issues in expanding Apple Pay out of the United States-
And, by the way, in US too Apple Pay is hemorrhaging transactions: in March 2016 reported a YoY -5.9 percent in transactions, because people just realize that most brick and mortar stores merchants don't support contactless terminals, the only kind of terminals accepting Android Pay or Apple Pay.
What makes Samsung Pay any different?
Samsung works with NFC and, thanks to MST, even without NFC.
Samsung indeed didn't enter the market overnight, blindly following the crowd of Apple and Google. Samsung innovated, and based its growth hypothesis on the awareness that the adoption rate of NFC grows slower than consumers' appetite for frictionless mobile payment solutions. It's easier to spread something that already works with the existent technology rather than something that is sparsely supported and needs hardware updates by risk averse, small medium enterprises.
You don't know that Samsung Pay is launching in-app purchases in US. That's a great plus, that Samsung just recently announced at Money 20/20. In November users will be able to buy via Samsung Pay in websites in the likes of Velocity, Raise, Fancy, Hello Vino, Wish and Touch of Modern, but as always in tech, these tests will pave the way for more websites and pretty soon, more features.
Also, Samsung is going to promote the service through discounts at nearby stores: the South Korean company is indeed testing a feature that shows to its users various coupons and deals in the surroundings. This will not only further helps Samsung Pay's expansion, but it will also close the gap between an online service and the actual retail world.