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Samsung Pay Arrives In India

22 Mar, 2017
Samsung Pay Arrives In India

Demonetization taught India how to live with Digital Payments. And while Paytm made a strong case for onboard (digital) wallets, it was still a bit of a convoluted process to first upload money to it’s Wallet and only then be able to spend the money.

Uber and others did allow the addition of credit cards to their apps, but even those required an OTP or password to be entered, to be able to spend money.

All of that said and done, India tasted digital payments and wanted more. Life had suddenly become easier – the need to visit an ATM, or a bank, or ask Dad for a loan of currency notes, was gone. Every merchant large and small was suddenly amenable to digital payments.

Plus, with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay already thriving in international markets, it was just a matter of time before they arrived here.

So?

Samsung today launched it’s payments tool, called Samsung Pay in India, beating Apple in the race to reach Indian consumers in this new, burgeoning space. And it’s exciting, because it simplifies life, and because it involves a bit of magic (you’ll see)!

What does it do?

Samsung Pay is a new digital payment service that absorbs all your credit cards, debit cards, and electronic wallets into one umbrella, which you can then use via your Samsung smartphone or smartwatch.

In simple terms, it replaces your plastic cards for transactions that you’d have made through swipe machines. It does not work for Online payments (i.e. websites or apps) just yet – though that is conceivably only a matter of time.

So, the obvious question is, how does it work?

Well, for starters, if your phone is one of the devices listed below, you will have to first install a service update which should be available over the air. Just head to the Settings section of your Android device and check for updates.

Here are the devices that are currently able to work with Samsung Pay in India:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge,
  • Samsung Galaxy S7,
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+,
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016),
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5,
  • Samsung Gear S smartwatch,
  • Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch actually enables you to use Samsung Pay with any other Android phone too!

Once your device is updated, you’ll be able to connect your payment method to the Samsung Pay application. This can be a card (credit and debit cards) or an electronic wallet (like Paytm) which will be saved to the device post verification.

No, really, how does it work? Won’t all merchants need new machines – which means that it’ll take 15 years for Samsung Pay to become usable?

A lot of things kill the acceptance of new services – complexity (during set up or usage), the need for new hardware (at the merchant or user level) and limited acceptability (remember how many merchants gripe when you want to use your Amex?).

In fact, the reason Paytm succeeded was exactly because it skated around all of the hindrances –  it was ubiquitous, tremendously easy to use, and most importantly, because everyone was happy accepting payments through it.

There’s some magic in Samsung Pay!

Samsung has been truly brilliant with their approach. Knowing fully well that India (in fact almost all countries in the world) would take many years to change the current credit card machines to become NFC-capable, Samsung created and patented a technology that actually enables the Samsung device (smartphone and smartwatch) to mimic a magnetic card (like your credit or debit card).

Called MST (for Magnetic Secure Transmission) this patented technology replicates a card swipe by wirelessly transmitting magnetic waves from the supported Samsung device to a regular card reader. So, MST turns virtually every card swipe machine in the world into a contactless payment receiver, without needing any additional hardware or software upgrades!

Not only does Samsung Pay work with MST, it even uses the more advanced NFC protocol (when the device is placed near an NFC reader). Unlike MST, NFC works via Radio waves and requires a specialised “receiver” in the receiving machine,

They are both secure transactions, and both do not need any “physical” connection with the payment receiving machine.

Samsung’s ingenuity of allowing both, MST and NFC enables almost all merchants across the globe to accept Samsung Pay, thus making it one of the most accepted mobile payment services on the market.

So… you should be able to use your Samsung Pay-capable device anywhere you like in India (and 11 other countries) starting today (though some merchants may not be aware of it for a while). Expect stares, incredulous looks, double checks and many questions from bystanders too!

Usage:

To use Samsung Pay, once the merchant has input the amount to be paid on his credit card machine or NFC terminal, all you have to do is swipe up from the bottom of the screen on your device, choose one of your saved payment instruments and then bring your device close to the payment machine. The phone should automatically connect to the merchant’s machine, and you should be able to see a prompt on your device, indicating the demanded amount. All you then have to do is enter your PIN as if you were swiping a card, and hit “Pay”.

The machine should start spewing out the paper receipt shortly (post approval from your card issuer). That’s it, you’re done!

Which all card issuers honour Samsung Pay in India?

The service will be available for users of  Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Rupay payment cards, for now.
Banks wise, ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered, SBI, Axis Bank cards are already supported. As is Paytm!
We’re hearing that UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and Citibank cards will soon be supported too.

Thus, this should be quite a functional service in metropolitan areas in a country like India.

Why you should use it.

First, there’s no need of taking out your card (and inadvertently leaving it behind at the merchant’s location) or even showing it to the waiter/cashier (since your card’s security number is visible at the back).

Second you don’t have to carry your wallet everywhere.

Third, in addition to the ease and comfort, the service also offers promotions from banks on rewards points and offers from Paytm as well.

There don’t seem to any additional charges that Samsung is levying for using the service.

The application also comes in with built in support, in case you are lost or need help with the use of the service.

All this makes for quite a tempting package!

What’s in it for Samsung?

The launch of Samsung Pay at this time can be expected to give Samsung the first-mover’s advantage in the Indian market – a market that is the second largest smartphone market in the world, and where the South Korean megabrand already has been the leader for quite a few years.

The service was first launched in South Korea in 2015 and is currently available in 12 countries including the US, China, Spain and Australia.
Yet, (and I particularly love this part) it took the company about two years to bring the service to India, despite the leverage the Indian market holds for the company. This was perhaps because the Indian market is still pretty traditional in its actual workings, and so are the concerns of the possible Indian users.

We focused mainly on the barriers which were holding back people from going digital. We picked up the key themes centric to the Indian consumers — technical issues, security concerns and the lack of acceptability presence, and then integrated mobile wallets, UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and debit cards to Samsung Pay. The idea was to make in India for Indian consumers,” said Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President (Mobile Business), Samsung India.

What is noteworthy is that Samsung has actually been stretching itself pretty thin for bringing this service to the Indian market. They have worked to include debit cards, and electronic wallets within the Samsung Pay ecosystem, where these are not options that are available on an international level. Clearly, these have been integrated specifically keeping the Indian user and our market’s dynamics in mind.

Now that the Samsung Pay genie is out of the bottle, the next few months should tell us how the Indian market responds to Samsung’s hard work!

Go out tonight, give it a try, once you’ve set up your Samsung device for this new service! Me, I’m off, hunting for a store that’ll swap my Windows 10 phone, for that delectable Samsung Galaxy S7 edge! Or should I wait for Apple? Hmm…