After three years on beta trials and testings, Samsung Pay has officially launched in South Africa. NOW in SA was among select media organizations, lifestyle influencers, tech leaders and financial service providers invited to the exclusive reveal event at the Sandton Convention Centre last week.

First launched in the US, South Korea, and China in 2015, Samsung Pay allows users to make transactions using only their smartphone at any payment terminal without the physical presence of a bank card, all thanks to the cutting-edge MST (magnetic secure transmission) and NFC (near-field communication) technologies.

Addressing a jam-packed auditorium, Samsung Africa president Sung Yoon noted that the South African roll-out of the Samsung Pay was well-timed technology-wise. “In 2015 when we launched Samsung Pay in the US, the technology was there but not as much advanced as it is now. Incredibly it has since gone through a lot of testings, and we are more confident where we are sitting that Samsung Pay is not just for Samsung. Customers (for an example my wife) will never bring a credit card with whenever she was out in Korea. She was always using Samsung Pay and when we moved into this country (South Africa) it was a big inconvenience to have to use a credit card instead. What we are saying is that with help from our key partners — Visa, Absa, Standard Bank, and Mastercard, the majority of our customers can now use this groundbreaking service.”

Touching on some of the core fundamentals that led to the development of Samsung Pay, chief marketing officer at Samsung SA Justin Hume made mention of three things; seamlessness, convenience, and simplicity. “When we created this platform we wanted to make it the most consumer-friendly, most enjoyable and consumer-led product that we could bring to the market, and that’s deeply entrenched within the Samsung philosophy — in terms of providing services to consumers that work seamlessly in their lives, are integrated and basically functional in any form they are utilizing and equally important to help make their payment options far more accessible irrespective of where they choose to shop.”

Explaining its functionality, Hume added that “Samsung Pay is deeply integrated into compatible Galaxy devices, so it creates a frictionless experience for the customers to literally just swipe up, authenticate, tap their phones and the job is done.”

Since it’s launch three years ago, Samsung Pay has reached a unique milestone of over 100 million transactions, becoming a preferred platform across the globe he said. “So we expect to see the same trend here in South Africa.”

Changing customer behavior is key

From speedy checkout processes, secured frictionless experiences to making the internet of things a reality, speakers after speaker spoke of the many customer/business benefits that come with the service, notwithstanding some of the hurdles that can stop them from achieving their goals.

“Apart from providing consumers with additional solutions that will help increase our digital footprint, getting customers to start using phones to pay is a big change and as experience has taught us to change doesn’t come easy — a lot has to do with changing customers’ behavior,” said Standard Bank of emerging payments Wendy Pienaar adding: “As you know it was a challenge to get people to use contactless cards and it’s up to each one of us now to make sure that with this creative innovation we start training our merchants to show customers that it’s ok to use their phones to tap and feeling comfortable while doing it.”

The wide reach of Samsung being at the forefront of where their customers want to be makes this a highly mutual relationship for a company like Mastercard, one of the global leaders in digital payments.

Slowly ushering Africa to a cashless society

Globally we are seeing a shift towards digital payments and societies that are less dependent on cash, as such consumers want convenience and security with payments across various levels. Similarly, added Pienaar South Africans are also becoming comfortable with the idea of leaving their wallets at home and instead using their phones as means of payment.

“In places like Africa where mobile devices and payment adoption are key, we want our clients and customers to be able to leverage that consumer journey, and our duty is to ensure that they have what they require in terms of providing adequate security with an acceptable level of convenience at the same time.”

While South Africa was an obvious country of choice for the initial roll-out of the Samsung Pay in Africa given the high usage of debit and credit cards among citizens, plans are underway by Samsung to extend the service to other African countries upon consultation with various banking institutions, and all the relevant parties.

Security par excellence

With cellphone theft ranking having become the modern-day purse snatching, security was under stable among the main concerns for consumers looking for alternative safer methods to cash.

We are told, however, that this is nothing to worry much about as the method is safer than credit or debit card transactions. If you lose your phone, the authentication protocol of Samsung Pay makes it near impossible for criminals to “your iris (face) recognition, fingerprints, or pin,” Yoon reassured.

Frequently asked questions:

How to use Samsung Pay?
Samsung users should upgrade to the latest software version for their eligible Galaxy smartphone and download the app from the Google Play store, register or log in to their Samsung account, select a preferred method of verification by fingerprint, iris scan or PIN, scan a debit, credit or cheque card with the camera and verify the card details.

Which devices are compatible with Samsung Pay?
Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S8/S8+, Galaxy S7/S7 edge, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy A8 Galaxy A7 and Galaxy Note5.

Where does it work?
Samsung Pay can be used at major at any place where major bank debit or credit cards are accepted, as we well as at both VISA and MasterCard platforms.

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Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.