Samsung Pay became the latest mobile payments platform to enter China, the South Korean tech giant announced today.
The move was made in partnership with China UnionPay, the sole interbank ATM network and primary card issuer in China. If you’re doing card business in China, in other words, you’re doing it with UnionPay, and Samsung Pay will support all its cards. The network now operates in more than 150 countries.
Samsung Pay also supports select credit and debit cards from nine banks in China, according to ZDNet: China CITIC Bank, China Construction Bank, China Everbright Bank, China Guangfa Bank, China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd, China Merchants Bank, Hua Xia Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Ping An Bank.
It’s fair to say China has opened up to mobile payments from foreign companies. It has already allowed mobile payments from domestic nonbanks — WeChat from Tencent and Alipay from Ant Finanical were in operation before the international competition began arriving. The launch of Samsung Pay follows that of Huawei Pay earlier in March, and Apple Pay in February. Apple Pay launched with 12 bank partners and quickly grew to 19. Huawei Pay launched with just one bank partner, Bank of China, the nation’s second largest lender.
Together Apple and Samsung account for 37% of the world’s smartphones, but they face a stiff challenge in China. Alipay controls 70% of the mobile payments market, and WeChat 20%, according to the FT.
Tough Chinese users tend to favor solutions, Samsung Pay could face a better landscape than Apple due to its Loop Pay integration, which means older, magstripe card readers are in play with Samsung Pay.