Samsung Pay boss reveals plans for ‘more aggressive expansion’

Samsung Pay Deals
DEAL MAKER: Samsung Pay will come with a Deals feature to provide nearby discounts

Samsung Pay is planning “more and more aggressive expansion”, global general manager Thomas Ko has told NFC World in an exclusive interview at Money2020 in Las Vegas, as it emerged a new Deals feature will go live next month and the mobile payments service will operate in Malaysia and Thailand by the end of the year.

The new countries will take the total number of Samsung Pay supporting markets to 10 around the world, following its debut in South Korea in August 2015 where the transaction volume is now more than US$2bn, Ko revealed, adding “every single thing we’re seeing about the service is very encouraging”.

Meanwhile, beginning next month, Samsung Pay users “will be able to locate discounts and coupons for nearby stores and restaurants through the new Deals feature within the Samsung Pay app and redeem these deals instantly”.

‘Very encouraging’

“It’s been a little over a year since the first time we launched in South Korea in August and the US in September — a lot of things happened in one year,” Ko says. “Every single thing we’re seeing so far has been very encouraging.

“The number of countries that we’ve launched, the number of partners we are getting — in every single country, we’re getting tens and twenties of banks as partners — all of them are willing to work with us.

“And the number of merchants we’re signing up, the number of transactions that we’re seeing, the number of users that are happening in every single country, all of them are pointing in the right direction. We are growing.

“I think the transaction volume in South Korea is more than US$2bn but what is really important is 25% of that is already online. There’s a tremendous differentiator in the online experience with Samsung Pay as well.”

Samsung Pay
HUGE UPTAKE: 25% of transaction volume is now taking place online

“Samsung Pay is not just about offline payment,” Ko adds. “Four million membership loyalty cards have been registered into Samsung Pay ever since we launched that feature in South Korea about 10 months ago and in the US about five months ago.

“That uptake has been huge — there was a clear pain point. What we saw was that these kind of additional services that are not necessarily payment but your wallet type of services are beneficial for the users, too.”

“MST [Magnetic Secure Transmission] is still a big differentiator for us,” Ko continued. “We believe in it and, in many countries where we have launched so far, MST is still probably the most popular choice for many of the credit card customers. In the US, we still see about a three to one ratio of MST transactions versus NFC transaction.

“To the customer, they don’t necessarily know whether it’s NFC or MST — not many people actually know what the differentiation is. The only thing they care about is, can I use my phone to pay or not in the store where I usually shop. You don’t want to change the place you usually shop just because of the payment instrument.

“At the end of the day, I think customers don’t really care whether it’s NFC or MST — they just think the digital payment experience is pretty cool.”

‘Continue to expand’

“We are going to continue to expand — there are many countries that we’re working to at this moment,” Ko revealed. “It takes enormous amount of time and effort for us to go to one country. Samsung is fully committed to Samsung Pay, making it available to our customers. We have much higher demand. More and more aggressive expansion is going to come.”

The mobile payments service launched in the US in September last year. It made its first appearance in Europe in June 2016 when it arrived in Spain. Its roll out in Singapore later in the same month was closely followed by another in Australia. In July the service launched in Puerto Rico and Brazil.

Plans for a global expansion of the service were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February 2016. Some 100m transactions in seven countries have been made using Samsung Pay since its introduction. It launched in Russia earlier this month.

Samsung Pay now supports more than 500 banks and credit unions, representing more than 85% of the US debit card and credit card market, according to the company.

Mastercard announced its deal with Samsung Pay to take the mobile payment service to all online merchants using Masterpass earlier this week.

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