As mobile payments continue their race into the mainstream, land grab expansion seems to have become the name of the game. Summed up in a single word, the theme of the week in mobile was “more” for many of the major mobile movers — more territory, more devices and more merchants.
Samsung’s global march added another stopping point this week, as Thailand became the latest nation to come online for Samsung Pay. That announcement comes as most of the global payments-watching community was watching Samsung Pay’s imminent foray into India.
Speaking of watching — and watches…
After four months of waiting, Android Pay has finally made the leap onto an Android Wear-powered smartwatch — thanks to a bit of as assist from LG. It’s not Android Pay’s first foray onto a wearable, but it is the first time Android Pay will be open for business on a smartwatch not made by Samsung.
Apple’s move this week is about merchants. New research suggests that Apple Pay has gone from being accepted at 16 percent of U.S. merchants to 36 percent of U.S. merchants — which said report notes is good enough to make it the most favored form of in-store mobile payment among American merchants.
So how’d all the territory grabbing come out this week – and who gained the most ground? Well…
Samsung Pay In Thailand
Samsung Pay is not entirely new to Thailand — the service has been rolling out slowly under the radar since a November soft launch with about 100 retail partners — but as of Tuesday, Samsung Pay was out in full for any Thai customer interested in taking it for a smartphone spin.
And, it should be noted, Samsung has great expectations for the Thai market and has set a goal of attracting 1 million users to the platform by the end of the year.
“Thailand is the ninth country in 10 markets globally with which we have established our mobile payment presence, and the third country in Asia-Pacific apart from Singapore and Australia,” said Elle Kim, vice-president for the payment business group at Samsung Electronics.
Kim noted that Thailand presents a natural opportunity for a mobile payments platform — given the government’s national e-payment scheme and the widespread use of smartphones and e-commerce.
At launch, to use the service, customers must use a Visa or Mastercard issued by one of the nation’s six largest banks: Bangkok Bank, KTC Credit Card, Citibank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank and Krungsri Consumer.
Those six collectively cover about 70 percent of the cards issued in Thailand — Samsung has confirmed that by the end of the year it hopes to have upped that to covering 90 percent of the nation’s card holders.
And it is a 90 percent that Samsung will compete for unopposed, since neither Apple nor Android Pay have any immediate plans to take on the Thai market. As of right now, mobile payment transaction value in Thailand is estimated to reach US$4 million in 2017. That figure is forecast to reach $36 million by 2021.
Samsung is also widely expected to announce an expansion into India for Samsung Pay by the end of the quarter — with more international expansion slated for 2017.
Android Pay And Android Wear – Better Together?
After a very public announcement of Wear 2.0 last October that included Android Pay — the updated and enhanced version of Android OS for wearables — the world sort of had to wait a while to see it in action, since there was no wearable on the market sporting the feature.
That changed this week with a pair of new watches from LG that marked a collaborative design effort with Google: the Watch Sport and the Watch Style.
The big change involves making the watch a device capable of standing apart from a smartphone — a true computer for the wrist.
And while that extends to many of the Wear’s various features, it is drawing praise particularly in relationship to the Android Pay support now available on the wearable.
Unique to this version of wearable-based payment, however, is its level of independence. Android Pay runs as a standalone app on the watch — a connected smartphone is not necessary to pay for stuff (though a phone pairing is necessary to set up Android Pay on the watch for the first time). Android Pay on a watch does not actually even need an internet connection for a limited number of transactions (though to fully complete the transaction the watch must eventually go online).
Android Pay is not entirely new to wristbased devices — Samsung’s smartwatches support it — but as of this week, Android Pay supported by Android’s wearable OS is now on the market for the first time — though not the last.
Google has announced that many more Wear 2.0 watches will be out in the market by the end of the year — presumably to satisfy a consumer demand that will make itself apparent any day now.
Apple’s Adding Merchants
According to new published data from Boston Retail Partners, Apple Pay has garnered the largest percentage of U.S. merchants supporting mobile in-store payments, with 36 percent of said merchants accepting the 2.5 year old mobile payments app. The study further suggested that an additional 22 percent of retailers will accept Apple Pay in the next 12 months and 11 percent on top of that plan to do so within the next one to three years.
Apple’s lead is notable — but also highly explainable by time. Apple Pay is the granddaddy of in-store mobile payments apps, so it’s had more time to add merchants to its roster. But as we’ve noted, being present at the POS is only half the battle for Apple Pay — consumers still have to chose to use it. So far, by our numbers here at PYMNTS, they aren’t — at least 19 out of every 20 who can.
Which, as it turns out, maybe the lesson this week. More is good — more devices, more ground and more merchants — but only if at the end those things net more customers — and more transactions.
We’ll keep you posted on how more turns into market share for transactions. By the way, we’ll be releasing totally new data on mobile payments adoption – based on what consumers actually do at the point of sale when they are paying for what they bought – at Innovation Project 2017. This new study will measure adoption for the major in-store “Pays” – Apple, Android, Samsung, and Walmart (at Walmart only, of course).