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India: Samsung Pay beats rivals to Indian mobile payments launch

VentureBeat reports that Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung has beaten arch-rivals Apple and Google in launching mobile payments in India - the largest untapped market for mobile payments. With India soon set to surpass the US as the second-largest smart phone market in the world, Samsung's first-mover status may make it a major player in the country's burgeoning market for mobile payments and loyalty.
 
By Rick Ferguson

India represents Samsung's 14th mobile payment country launch since August 2015 - an impressive pace. According to VentureBeat, Samsung has also lined up an equally impressive array of payments providers in India, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI Cards, Standard Chartered Bank, and Citibank India. Money quote from Thomas Ko, vice president and global GM of Samsung Pay:
 
"When we launched Samsung Pay, our goal was to enable consumers across the globe to make payments that are simple, secure and accepted almost everywhere. Over the past year and a half, this vision has evolved into building a complete digital wallet solution, allowing customers worldwide to not only make payments but also use membership and transit cards, receive deals and rewards, and more."
VentureBeat also points out how India represents a unique challenge for mobile payments providers:
 
"The Indian market represents something of a unique challenge for any mobile payment service, as specific local considerations have to be taken into account. The Indian government has what is known as the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), which is basically a way for banks to transfer money directly to one another based on a single identifier, bypassing the need for a billing processor and making the transaction cheaper. At launch, Samsung has integrated a UPI into the Samsung Pay app, as well as Indian commerce platform Paytm."
The growth opportunity in India is unprecedented: in a country of 1.3 billion people, less than 20 percent own smart phones. As more consumers join the mobile ecosystem, companies like Samsung may find it much easier to drive mobile payments adoption, as Indian most newly-minted Indian consumers won't already be paying with plastic credit and debit cards as they are in more developed countries. Once Apple and Google join the party, we could see an explosion of mobile-based loyalty programs as manufacturers , payment providers, and brands vie for market share. In a few years, India may represent the leading edge of mobile loyalty.
 
Rick Ferguson is CEO and Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group.