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Samsung closing the gap on Apple Pay?

March 2, 2016

Perhaps the biggest name in mobile payments over the last year-plus has been Apple Pay, the platform for mobile devices such as the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Perhaps the biggest name in mobile payments over the last year-plus has been Apple Pay, the platform for mobile devices such as the iPhone and Apple Watch. However, a more recent entrant to the mobile payments realm may be picking up steam a bit more quickly than its better-known predecessor, and may even overtake it in the near future.

While Apple Pay already has 12 million people around the world using it at least once a month, Samsung Pay recently surpassed 5 million users after its debut in the U.S. late last year, according to a report from Bloomberg Business News. Since that September launch date, the company has processed some $500 million in transactions. The enrollment number also matches what Android Pay from Google has garnered in the same period.

More Samsung Pay users are starting to become regulars these days.More Samsung Pay users are starting to become regulars these days.

What’s the driving force?
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons Samsung Pay seems to be catching on these days is that its proprietary payment technology works far more broadly than Apple or Google’s offerings, the report said. When making a purchase, its system makes a tapped phone act like a traditional magnetic strip credit card, meaning that it can be accepted nearly everywhere a traditional credit card can. Apple Pay and Android Pay, meanwhile, can only be accepted at participating retail partners, and that may be the big difference here for many users.

“It’s become a cult following,” Richard Crone, chief executive officer of Crone Consulting, told the news organization.

Further, the potential marketplace for Samsung Pay is significantly larger than that of Apple Pay, the report said. That’s because through the end of last year, Samsung was the manufacturer of 22 percent of all smartphones in circulation worldwide, compared to only 16 percent for Apple. So while iPhone is the most popular individual phone, Samsung remains the largest manufacturer, even as the mobile platform only works on five of its offerings at present.

A long way to go?
However, it should be noted that right now, only 6 percent of iPhone owners whose devices are capable of using Apple Pay – that is, those with either the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S – are using the mobile platform on a regular basis, the report said. Fortunately for the computer giant, that compares favorably with Samsung Pay’s 4 percent, and Android Pay’s 1 percent. But because the latter two platforms have been around for only about six months, this indicates a far more rapid rate of adoption for Samsung Pay overall.

For its part, though, Apple says adoption rates in the second half of last year increased 10-fold in comparison with the first six months of 2015, the report said. If that trend were to continue Apple would see a huge uptick in users over the course of 2016.

Regardless, it does seem that mobile payment adoption is picking up steam in a very serious way these days, and small retailers would be wise to adopt it themselves as a means of meeting the likely increase in consumer demand.

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