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Samsung Pay has officially launched in South Africa, and it will now support all the major banks.

The app can be downloaded from the Google Play store and is compatible with a selection of Samsung Galaxy smartphones, including devices such as the Galaxy S and Note series.

Standard Bank and Absa are launching partners for the service and cardholders can use Samsung Pay to pay at compatible point-of-sale devices.

More banks and devices to come

"Standard Bank and Absa were the first two who really saw the potential in Samsung Pay all those months and years ago," said Samsung South Africa Chief Marketing Officer, Justin Hume.

"There are definitely plans to include support for other banks. There are a number of banks that are in the development phase." Hume added that the payment platform would include support for Visa and Mastercard's from other banks, in addition to loyalty cards.

"We have a number of new banks coming through, as well as a number of loyalty providers and other such service providers which will be launching on Samsung Pay," he said.

During the early access programme, Samsung Pay supported newer Galaxy smartphones, as well as the Galaxy A8. Hume also confirmed that the platform now also supports the Samsung Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 2017 edition in South Africa.

"New products coming to market in the mid and top-tier range will have support for Samsung Pay going forward," added Hume.

He noted that older Samsung devices would not get support for Samsung Pay in South Africa.

Authentication technology

Samsung Pay uses standard NFC transmission and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) to action payments. When you want to add a support for loyalty cards in South Africa, the payment platform has another trick up its sleeve.

"Quite a lot of the loyalty cards use a barcode reader which reads a physical barcode on the card," said Hume.

"Mobile phones, because of their anti-reflective screens and the different layers of glass, don’t allow traditional barcode readers to actually scan that code," Hume added.

"So what Samsung Pay does is it simulates that barcode by redirecting the number string to the RF reader and beaming out a code which the barcode scanner can read."

Samsung also said that the company is working with its banking partners to overcome limitations holding back the rollout of Samsung Pay to Samsung smartwatches.

"Samsung Gear and Galaxy smartwatches can actually support Samsung Pay, but we have not yet enabled the service," said Hume.

"The reason for that is because approximately between 8%-12% of POS terminals in South Africa will ask for a random 4-digit code to authenticate Samsung Pay payments."

"With that in mind, the interface on the smartwatch is not wide enough for you to see your full card number and authenticate this way."

The company said that it is, therefore, working with local banks to implement a different type of authentication which bypasses this requirement.

"There is another bank which requires this authentication to be implemented before it can come online and support the Samsung Pay platform," said Hume.

Once this technology is implemented, Samsung Pay will be compatible with Gear and Galaxy smartwatches which support NFC payments.

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