Contactless payments made using your smartphone are part of the extraordinary convenience of today’s mobile innovations. But South Africans have largely missed out on this use of near-field communication (NFC) and other contactless technology for this purpose.
We have the hardware on our phones, but only a single banking app (FNB Pay) allows locals to use the NFC chip on their smartphones for contactless payments. Meanwhile, contactless payment apps by phonemakers have yet to reach our shores. That is, until now.
“The future has arrived in South Africa. The first on the continent to access Samsung Pay, South Africans will be able to enjoy this highly innovative, safer, simpler payment method that works anywhere,” Samsung SA said in an announcement on 31 July.
The good news? Samsung Pay has launched the early access phase of the app for South Africans. The bad news? It is limited to certain people who bank with Absa.
According to Samsung South Africa, the early access trial of the app will also be extended to Standard Bank customers in “due course”.
The app allows you to hover your phone over a payment terminal to make a mobile payment — no need for scanning barcodes or reaching for your credit card. Samsung Pay uses MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) technology to enable this.
“Most merchants do not need to upgrade their current payment terminals for Samsung Pay, thus allowing for a smooth and fast purchase process.”
Contactless mobile payments are a convenient solution and many have been wondering which phone company would bring their app to South Africa first. Samsung is now in the lead, but Huawei Pay will reportedly launch in SA in the second half of 2018. Which phonemaker will launch their full version of the app first waits to be seen.
Samsung Pay is compatible with the Galaxy Note 8, S9, S8, S7 and A8 devices. It will also be supported on the Galaxy A5 and A7 (2017 Edition) within the month of August.
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The dawn of Samsung Pay will be limited to only a few people, but the fact that Samsung is now rolling our their payment app means there’s hope that more phonemakers will implement the technology.
Part of this is also up to the banks — some of whom see enough demand to allow these types of payments. FNB has been ahead of the curve with FNB Pay, but other banks and even the Masterpass app have been lagging behind.
According to Samsung SA, once a bank has done the Visa and/or Mastercard tokenization implementation then the bank can be on-boarded for Samsung Pay. So hopefully more banks customers will be able to use the app soon.
In the meantime, South Africans rely on mobile payments through apps like Snapscan and Zapper. These are great apps, but they are limited to certain brands and types of cards (e.g. Mastercard credit) and still require vendors to have specific barcodes for scanning.
Google Pay doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get here and even local iOS users can’t get Apple Pay locally yet.
Now that Samsung is fully on board with rolling out Samsung Pay, it will likely spur other manufacturers to release their own solutions locally. More choice and convenience is always a great thing for consumers.