Samsung Pay Readies its Chinese Debut

February 26, 2016         By: Steven Anderson

China is easily one of the biggest markets around, owing to its massive population—over three times that of the United States by some reports—and its increasing middle class.

So seeing brands make an attempt at breaking into those markets is a development that makes sense.

Samsung Pay is set to join the fray in short order, with reports suggesting it could be in place by the end of this week.

This puts it on a nice even keel with Apple, who only managed to recently get a toehold in the market itself. However, Samsung is set to have quite a few advantages that Apple may not in the region, and it could well make its way to better success.

Perhaps the biggest is that Samsung Pay already has wide acceptance; around 30 million merchant locations worldwide accept Samsung Pay.

The recent Hannibal Buress commercial showing Hannibal paying for a deli meal with Samsung Pay even in a place that doesn’t accept Apple Pay. That kind of broad capability could be a real boost in the Chinese market.

While Samsung Pay works mainly on the high-end Galaxy phones—there was some discussion about opening it up to other devices, but it doesn’t seem to have caught on just yet—there may be more such devices in Chinese hands than Apple devices. Android devices in general are much more numerous than Apple virtually anywhere, if for no other reason than there are so many such devices out there.

Samsung Pay won’t have its own way in the country, however; it, like Apple Pay, will have to face down plenty of entrenched competition, like Alibaba and Tencent, two companies which have been operating in the region for years. It’s going to take a real bargain proposition to get a market going; using things like device-specific loyalty programs could be a big help here as it tries to pull its own market together.

Samsung doesn’t need to win over China, but rather, a comparatively small market; specifically, the part of it that’s actually using the devices that will run Samsung Pay. That’s going to give it an advantage, as it can closely target its marketing to fit. It’s got a real potential to make an impact, if it can get its own camp in order against entrenched competitors.