Within 24 hours of a report that suggested that Samsung was not really all that concerned with Android Pay, came the news that the launch of its mobile payments solution, Samsung Pay, would be delayed. What was initially scheduled to be a summer 2015 rollout is now slated for September.
And that got virtual tongues a waggin’ as speculation about a delay got bunched up with the “potential threats” that Samsung Pay is now facing as a result of the Android Pay launch.
MPD CEO Karen Webster caught up with Will Graylin, Global Co-GM of Samsung Pay and CEO of LoopPay, about just what was behind the decision to delay Samsung Pay.
“The delay of launch is not because of any softness on Samsung’s commitment or capabilities to get the product out,” Graylin told Webster yesterday in an exclusive interview. Graylin noted that the delay was pushed back to a key month for Samsung: September — which is when we could see the introduction of Samsung’s next “flagship” smartphone product.
“If you put two and two together, you’ll see that [September] makes sense – it’s where we can actually get the most bang for the buck,” Graylin said. “So that’s one misconception [about the delay until September] that people need to be clear about.”
Graylin also provided some insight (without giving away any specifics) as to why Samsung now thinks September is the best time to introduce Samsung Pay to the world.
“If anything, we think that by the time we launch (in September), that we will have significant announcements associated with which banks, which networks are participating with Samsung Pay and even which merchants and which programs attached to merchants will all be a part of Samsung Pay,” Graylin said. “And that’s just a slight hint into what will be coming. Samsung Pay is in a great position.”
Now we all know how fond Apple is of September launches — making Samsung’s news that much more intriguing as the two continue to go head–to–head in both smartphone sales and getting their mobile wallets into the hands of consumers – literally.
You’ll recall that Samsung took its first stab at Apple when Samsung announced in February 2015 that it had acquired LoopPay, a mobile commerce platform that uses its Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) patented technology to turn existing mag stripe readers into mobile contactless receivers. That makes LoopPay digital wallet users mobile payments customers at more than 90 percent of merchant establishments today.
“We want to bring the best that Samsung can offer with what LoopPay can offer – smartphones for sure. But our accessories makes what we have – and the use cases that they can accommodate – even a little bit more interesting,” Graylin told Webster.
Graylin also addressed another misconception swirling about in the market, and that relates to Google’s acquisition of Softcard, its launch of Android Pay and the belief that the combination of the two will keep carriers from enabling Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay, of course, will become preloaded on Samsung phones. But Graylin also pointed to one key reason why Android Pay needs Samsung — and also, perhaps, why they may need each other.
“We think that it should be the customers who should choose. We‘re [Samsung] not here to block anyone either,” Graylin said. “Our goal is to just say, ‘whoever gives the best consumer experience should get the consumer’s attention’. …We still really believe that the consumer experience is key.”
While a preloaded Android Pay may carry some advantage with the carriers, when it comes to delivering a mobile wallet that consumers will actually connect with, Graylin emphasized that it’s not about having carrier power, it’s about having power to convince the consumer to use the wallet.
“Let’s look at who can influence consumers,” he noted. “Samsung is in a great position to influence consumers — as a consumer brand, and also by feet on the street,” he said, referring to Samsung’s presence in stores like Best Buy where staff is trained to sell a portfolio of Samsung products and even in some carrier stores where they do the same.
But beyond its ability to influence carriers, companies or customers on the perks of using Samsung products and, in particular, Samsung Pay, Graylin emphasized one mobile payments buzzword that nearly every company has come to realize they must achieve in order to win over customers: ubiquity.
“We’re talking about a vision for a true universal wallet. We believe that universal wallets should exist,” he said, also noting that eliminating friction from mobile payments means giving consumers the certainty that their phones can be used for payment anywhere they like to shop. “This means achieving ubiquity of merchant acceptance, ubiquity of consumer payment acceptance method, ubiquity really of anything with a barcode or a mag stripe that can be accepted by any merchant, and issued by almost any issuer,” Graylin added.
“It’s impossible to get consumers excited about mobile payments when there aren’t enough acceptance points for them to use mobile payments and get excited about,” Graylin told Webster. “We solve that problem. As a result, the issuing banks are excited about what we’re doing, as are the networks and the merchants.”