Right on the heels of the announcement that Apple Pay is launching in China in early 2016, Samsung has done the same, revealing that its own mobile payments system will be available in the country at around the same time. Similar to Apple, Samsung Pay has reached a deal with China UnionPay, the nation’s bankcard association, allowing its cardholders to user their compatible Samsung smartphone to make NFC-based payments at QuickPass point-of-sale terminals.
Samsung must still await approval from Chinese regulators (again, the same as Apple Pay), which is why there’s no solid launch date yet. As China UnionPay has control over the country’s interbank networks, any form of mobile payment system trying to enter the nation must partner with them. This also means that just about every Chinese bank will be compatible with Samsung Pay, so users won’t have to worry much about which debit or credit cards can be used.
Apple and Samsung are likely hoping for quick approval of their payment systems, not only to benefit from the holiday shopping season, but because even if they miss it, China is one of the world’s largest markets for contactless payments.
Of course, Apple and Samsung will have plenty of competition, not only with each other, but with Alipay, the mobile payment system from internet retailing giant Alibaba. Alipay is said to have controlled over 80% of the market in 2014, and boasts of roughly 400 million registered users. However, with the currently popularity of Apple and Samsung’s smartphones in China, the companies are sure to earn of piece of the market for themselves.