Samsung started discussing the launch of its mobile payments platform, Samsung Pay, with the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) at last two years ago.
“The big question for us was whether there would be any changes to the existing rules we have in place for card payments,” said PASA CEO Walter Volker.
For instance, PASA has certain requirements for different cardholder verification methods. These vary depending on whether chip and PIN, a contactless tap-and-go payment, or a swipe with signature is used.
Samsung Pay can use biometrics for security, and PASA had to see whether this needed to be accommodated into the existing verification method regime.
“We accept that the biometrics are secure, but we had to check,” said Volker.
When the Samsung Pay system is distilled into its simplest form, though, it behaves similarly to existing card payments.
It supports the same contactless technology banks are rolling out in their cards, and has the ability to mimic the swipe of a magnetic stripe on the back of card for the instances where tap-and-go payments are not available.
“[Samsung Pay] runs off the back of the card system – we call it the card rails – by using the existing Visa and Mastercard system,” said Volker.
“Instead of using the card, the card credentials are stored in the phone.”
As Samsung Pay implemented existing technologies in an innovative way, it was therefore possible to evaluate it in terms of the rules already in place.
Now, Samsung Pay is available in South Africa to Samsung device owners.
The following Samsung devices currently support Samsung Pay in South Africa: Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy S7, S8 and S9 ranges, the Galaxy A8, and the 2017 editions of the Galaxy A5 and A7. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will also be supported when it launches locally.
Samsung has also launched promotions to encourage the uptake of the platform by South Africans.