Twenty-five percent of all card transactions in the UK are made using e-wallets. Source: Shutterstock

Samsung Pay plays catch up as it launches in the UK

SAMSUNG is stepping up its game in the mobile payments space by launching its e-wallet in the UK, a direct competitor to Android and Apple Pay.

Why the UK? As reported by Bloomberg, it is one of the major global markets for contactless payments. In fact, 25 percent of all card transactions in the UK are made using e-wallets, with over 100 million contactless cards in circulation.

Samsung Pay had three major banks backing it up at launch – Banco Santander SA, MBNA Corp, and Nationwide – with the likes of American Express, First Direct, and HSBC arriving in a matter of weeks, according to Samsung UK head of technology, content and launch management Kyle Brown.

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Apple and Google have been present in the UK for years now, allowing users to buy using fingerprint authorization. Samsung’s plan is to take things up a notch – Galaxy S8 owners will be able to also use eye-scanning technology to make payments using the smartphone’s front-facing camera.

Although only Galaxy S8 users will be able to pay using their eyeballs, S7 and S6 owners will still be able to make purchases at any contactless payment terminals in the UK.

Samsung has some catching up to do, said CCS Insight head of research  Ben Wood. He tells the Guardian “Samsung Pay’s primary competition is Android Pay, and Samsung will need to offer some very attractive incentives to users if it wants to compete. Even more of a challenge will be getting existing Android Pay users to start using Samsung Pay – it is hard to see why someone would want to switch at present.”

Samsung is on an expansion spree with mobile payments this year. After launching in South Korea and in the US back in 2015, it subsequently launched in China, India, Brazil, Spain, Russia, Thailand and Malaysia. Last month, it also became available in Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.