Samsung’s mobile wallet service has been launched in China, in co-operation with local vendor UnionPay.
Instead of using cards, Samsung Pay allows shoppers to use their smartphones to pay for in-store purchases.
Last month, Apple launched its own Apple Pay system in China, also in partnership with UnionPay.
China’s smartphone market, the largest in the world, presents a huge business opportunity for mobile-payment systems.
Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will now compete with Alibaba’s Alipay, which currently dominates China’s electronic payments market.
However, analysts say that mobile payment services provided by Alipay and WeChat were so dominant in China that international newcomers such as Apple and Samsung would face an uphill battle to win market share.
Tencent’s WeChat also has a payment system which is popular in China, and telecommunications giant Huawei launched its own service earlier this month.
Samsung Pay was now available in China on a range of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5, the South Korean electronics giant said.
Samsung said it would have “the opportunity to support additional mid-range models in the future”.
In announcing its official launch, which has been expected since late last year, Samsung said that Samsung Pay currently supports select credit and debit cards of nine major banks in China including China CITIC Bank, China Construction Bank and China Everbright Bank.
The company has previously said it has one critical fact that will in its favor – its technology works with a much larger number of existing payment terminals.
There has been a rapid take-up of smartphones in China, with an estimated 68% of the population now owning one. And digital wallets are becoming a more popular way to pay for goods and services.
Samsung said on March 29 that its payment system was “simple, safe and easy to use” and that it worked “virtually anywhere you can swipe or tap your card in China”.
Unlike Google Wallet and several other earlier payment apps, Samsung says there is no need to unlock its phones to launch a special app to get started.
Like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay will use near field communication technology (NFC), which needs a separate transaction device, but it will also support magnetic secure transmission technology which works on regular credit card machines.
Samsung Pay is currently available in South Korea and the US.
Google’s Android Pay is now available at more than one million locations in the US competing with Apple Pay in the burgeoning mobile payments market.
The mobile payments market is estimated to be worth $1trillion in 2017.
Technology companies are trying to convince shoppers to use their handsets, rather than plastic cards, to pay for purchases.
Android Pay can be used with smart phones that have near-field communication (NFC) capability and Google’s KitKat 4.4+ operating system.
Google’s mobile payment system will allow users to store their credit card details on their phones, as well as loyalty cards and other data.
Existing users of the Google Wallet app can access Android Pay through an update, while new users can download it from the Google Play app store in the coming days.
Retailers including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Subway are among the first to participate in Android Pay, with more to come.
It will be extended to mobile checkouts in some apps later this year.
Android Pay will support credit and debit cards from providers including MasterCard, Visa and American Express, as well as banks including Bank of America, with Citigroup and Wells Fargo to follow.
Rather than passing users’ credit card details to a retailer, both the Google and Apple systems generate a “token” so the actual data is not revealed during a transaction, reducing the risk of data theft.
Last month, Samsung launched its own mobile wallet service, called Samsung Pay, in South Korea.
Samsung Pay will be available in the US from September 28, with countries including the UK, Spain and China to follow.
Google is yet to reveal when Android Pay will be available outside the US.
Samsung has unveiled two new smartphones, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5.
Both smartphones have 5.7in screens and are going on sale earlier in the year than their previous generations.
The new launches follow five successive falls in Samsung Electronics’ quarterly profits.
Analysts say the popularity of mid-range phones from Chinese rivals, and Apple’s shift to bigger iPhones, have dented demand for Samsung’s devices.
However, Samsung remains the world leader in terms of overall smartphone shipments.
The announcements were made at a press conference in New York.
Samsung also revealed that its smart wallet service, Samsung Pay – which allows the phones to trigger payment card transactions.
The service would go live in South Korea on August 20.
Samsung Pay will be extended to the US on September 28 and then to the UK and Spain at an unspecified date.
Like previous versions of the Note, Galaxy Note 5 comes with a stylus – which Samsung says makes it suitable for productivity tasks. But the phone now has metal edges and a glass back to give it a more “premium” feel.
In a change of strategy, Samsung has no plans at present to release the Note 5 in Europe – a decision it says is purely for marketing reasons.
Unlike last year, there is no “edge” edition of the Note.
Instead, the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus is targeted at those who want a “phablet”-sized handset with curved sides.
The “plus” in its name refers to the fact that its screen is both 0.6in larger than the earlier edition and more scratch-resistant.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ now has an extra gigabyte of memory, taking it up to 4GB of RAM to aid multi-tasking, but uses the same in-house Exynos processor as before.
This marks a change from the S5 Plus, which was the same size but contained a faster processor than the original S5.
The decision to host a standalone press conference for the handsets marks a change of strategy for Samsung.
All the previous versions of the Note were unveiled at Germany’s annual IFA tech show, which is still three weeks away. The S5 Plus was announced last October in a low-key press release.
One of the benefits of announcing the new models together at this point is that it should give Samsung about a month’s lead on Apple – reports suggest the company will update its own smartphones on September 9.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5 go on sale on August 21.
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