Samsung Pay is demonstrated on a smartphone produced by the South Korean manufacturer.
Photograph by Teresa Dapp — picture-alliance/dpa/AP

It's a rich, but crowded market for mobile payments.

By Hilary Brueck
March 29, 2016

Hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers who already pay for goods using their phones instead of pulling out their wallets now have one more option: Samsung Pay.

The South Korean electronics company launched its mobile wallet in China on Tuesday. The move rivals a similar one by Apple Pay, which launched in the world’s most populous country just last month.

Samsung and Apple are both entering an already crowded field of Chinese mobile payment apps. Alipay, operated by Alibaba spinoff Ant Financial already has 400 million users in the country, while Tencent covers about 19% of the mobile payment market in China with its Tenpay offering.

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Samsung is partnering with state-owned China Union Pay to launch its service, the same payment processing system Apple Pay uses there. Samsung’s system works almost identically to Apple Pay: with the tap of a fingerprint on the phone.

But Samsung does have one big advantage over Apple when it comes to mobile payments: Samsung Pay can be used at almost all credit card terminals, because it doesn’t require special registers equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology.

Still, Samsung has fewer phones in China with just a 7% market share compared to Apple’s 15%, BBC News reports. Samsung Pay is available for four of the latest Samsung models in China: the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5.

Are mobile payment apps here to stay?

Another other big mobile wallet competitor, Google’s Android Pay, might have a tougher time entering the Chinese market than Samsung and Apple. Google’s search engine was blocked in the country six years, after the tech giant refused to comply with China’s tough censorship laws.

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