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Samsung Looks to Clear a Hurdle in the UK

Late entry to crowded market must overcome lingering consumer distrust

June 22, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

A little over a month after launching Samsung Pay in the UK, the short list of banks whose cards are available for use on the mobile payment system has expanded.

On Tuesday, Samsung announced an immediate ability for HSBC, First Direct and M&S Bank cardholders to use their cards with the smartphone maker’s payment system. Those banks join Samsung Pay’s roster of card issuers—MBNA, Santander and Nationwide—available for use when it launched in the UK in May.

Samsung Pay’s UK rollout places it in immediate competition with already established mobile payment schemes from Apple and Android. Adoption of those systems got off to modest starts.

Q4 2016 polling by GlobalWebIndex found an average of 5% of UK internet users had used either Apple Pay or Google’s Android Pay at that point—more than a year after Apple Pay’s July 2015 UK debut and several months after Google’s May 2016 Android Pay introduction.

Like Apple and Google, Samsung is likely to run into resistance on the part of UK consumers to choosing nonfinancial firms’ mobile payment systems.

February 2017 data from an ongoing study of UK smartphone owners’ attitudes toward mobile wallet providers by Marketing Sciences found just 13% of respondents would trust a mobile wallet from Samsung. February’s figure was unchanged from the sentiment seen in September 2015, and it has remained consistently lower than those for Apple and Google throughout the study’s duration.

Brands from Which UK Smartphone Owners Would Trust a Mobile Wallet App, Sep 2015-Feb 2017 (% of respondents)

Samsung Pay’s acceptance is likely to be a slow burn for other reasons, too. Limited availability of not only participating banks but phone models that work with the system won’t facilitate rapid, widespread uptake.

Currently, Samsung Pay is available seamlessly only on the Galaxy S8/S8+ and S7/S7 edge models, plus it can be added to the S6/S6 edge following a software update. According to Samsung, a software update is now also rolling out to its A3 2017 and A5 2017 devices, plus the company says Samsung Pay will become available on additional devices “in the coming months.”

Additionally, Samsung is highlighting that Pay users can turn to the system “almost anywhere they can use their contactless payment cards” and making a play for London commuters with what it says in an exclusive ability to set up a “transport card” to use on Transport for London’s various rail and bus services.

The transport card option means users will be able to simply tap their phone at transport turnstiles and card readers without needing to wake their phone or verify their purchase with a fingerprint, iris scan or PIN as users of other mobile wallet systems typically must do.

Cliff Annicelli

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