On Tuesday, Samsung partnered with State Bank of India (SBI) to enable the latter's debit cards on Samsung Pay, its mobile payments platform.Launched in India in March the year, Samsung Pay allows you to use your phone in place of a debit or credit card when paying at shops. Aside from this, Samsung Pay also allows you to make payments via UPI or Paytm. India's biggest bank, the SBI has 27 crore active debit cards, expanding Samsung Pay’s reach substantially. Gadgets 360 spoke to Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President Mobile Business at Samsung India to find out what’s next from the company.
“Some of the key demands and feedback from our consumers is that SBI is significant, especially from the debit card side. A lot of consumers were awaiting the launch of SBI debit card use case,” says Warsi. “Another was that consumers wanted more devices to support Samsung Pay. To meet that, we launched Samsung Pay Mini, a month back which supports wallets and UPI. We’ve announced the first device in the Samsung J series segment to support Samsung Pay - we've launched the Samsung J7 Pro effectively today, which will support the full Samsung Pay service.”
Gadgets 360 exclusively reported last week that Samsung is looking to bring its payment service to non-Samsung smartphones and when we posed this question to Warsi, he was understandably non-committal in his response.
"Early days [..] we’ve just taken some initial steps, very encouraging response we’ve gotten. We’ve also launched Samsung Pay Mini which isn’t dependent on MST hardware, it’ll work without that as well. Lets see," he said, adding that the focus for now will be "to enable Samsung Pay across our smartphones as far as possible".
Feature phones are the flavour of the month thanks to JioPhone, and we asked Warsi if we could see Samsung Pay making it to one of these devices.
“On the feature phone side, technically it won't be possible to get it," says Warsi. "The kind of hardware and the software levels required, that only smartphone platforms can provide. So not feature phones.”
Samsung Pay usage
“We're seeing a lot of young consumers, early jobbers, students, womenfolk - we're seeing a fair cross-section of our users actually trying out and using and sticking to Samsung Pay,” adds Warsi, sharing the kind of usage Samsung has observed.
Warsi would not specify exact number of users, or how frequently Samsung Pay is being used by this base, but he adds that “the rate of adoption of Samsung Pay by our consumers in India, was probably the best and fastest we've seen in any market in a similar time period. “ That said, of the devices capable of using Samsung Pay, about half are using it regularly i.e. a monthly basis. Warsi adds. “Virtually every two devices that we sell of a Samsung Pay capable feature stack, one device is actually using it. Nearly one out of two are using Samsung Pay now that we sell every month of these kind of devices. That's not a minor number,” he divulges.
For now, Samsung Pay is available on the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy A5 (2016), Galaxy A7 (2016), Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy A7 (2017), Galaxy A9 Pro, and the newly launched Galaxy J7 Pro.
The most popular device for people to use Samsung Pay on is its flagship phone, Warsi adds. “So, smack one out of two S8 users are using Samsung Pay,” he says.
Launching in the wake of the demonetisation initiative in India, Samsung Pay's timing couldn't have been better, which probably helped with the uptake. However, Warsi says that the plans for India were being developed a full year before the rollout.
“We had a large and significant section of our devices - eight devices serving Samsung Pay. We had seven credit cards and four debit cards working," says Warsi. "We had Paytm on day one - which is the largest mobile wallet company in India. When we've launched in India, we launched to make it meaningful and relevant use sense of Indian consumers. It had nothing to do with 8th November.”
We had to ask if Samsung plans to link up Samsung Pay with its activities in the content space. The company has partnered with the likes of EA in the past to bring games and apps with nominal in-app purchase fees. It could make give consumers another payment option.
“It’s a very interesting space. We're studying that," says Warsi. "However Samsung Pay currently works in offline use case. It doesn't work in-app and online.” “I can't specify. But are we studying and work on that? Yes," he adds. "But is there any time frame to indicate on that? Not yet.”