Samsung is planning to launch its Samsung Pay mobile payment solution in India in the first half of 2017, according to a source familiar with the matter.
For bringing Samsung Pay in India, the company has partnered with American Express (Amex), said the source, adding that the company may be exploring opportunities with giants such as Visa and MasterCard as well.
American Express has been one of the partners of Samsung for the epayment solutions in several other regions including the USA, South Korea and Australia. Elsewhere, Samsung has also partnered with MasterCard and Visa, the two financial services companies that see billions of transactions worldwide on their networks every year.
Samsung began testing the service in India in December last year. Earlier this week, the South Korean technology company rolled out an update to the Galaxy Note5 smartphone in India which included the Samsung Pay app.
Samsung Pay, which rivals Android Pay and Google Pay, uses NFC-equipped point-of-sale terminals for some of its features. That would have been a hard sell as it would require Samsung to convince merchants across the country to upgrade their existing point-of-sale machines. Most of the point-of-sale devices in India don't support NFC.
But interestingly, Samsung Pay also supports MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission), a technology that allows it to send a magnetic signal from a compatible device to the payment terminal's card reader. This allows the smartphone to mimic a physical card, enabling the vast majority of existing terminals to support Samsung Pay as well.
Samsung Pay's reach could be limited in India, as the service only works with its high-end smartphones. The support for various cards for transactions is part of the things Samsung is trying to solve with Pay, however. The mobile payment solution has also been positioned as the central database that can store multiple card from various banks as well as Samsung's reward cards and serve as a fast-getaway for any online transaction with a tap or code.
However, Samsung Pay's reach could be limited in India, as the service only works with high-end premium Samsung smartphones.
Samsung has over 2.5 million Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, and Galaxy Note5 (the smartphones that support Pay) customers in India, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint.
"This is a pretty good install base and mature users for Samsung Pay to gain initial traction," Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint told Mashable India.
Samsung’s interest in India despite all the trouble is understandable. In the light of demonetisation, wallet apps such as Paytm and MobiKwik have reported astronomical growth in transactions and downloads. Paytm said last year that its service was handling more requests than all the plastic cards combined.
While Apple has remained tight lipped on its plans to bring Apple Pay in India, Tim Cook visited ICICI Bank's headquarters and met CEO Chanda Kochhar during his India visit last year, which sparked speculations of the possible launch of Apple Pay in the country.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said last month that the company could introduce a mobile payment solution in Android for the Indian market. He didn’t share a timeframe.