Huawei Pay launches in SA – here’s how it compares to Samsung’s mobile payment system

Business Insider SA
Huawei Pay South Africa Zapper
(Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Huawei Pay launches on Thursday 3 December, connecting smartphones with Zapper’s mobile payment service.
  • Smartphone users will be limited to scanning QR codes but Huawei plans to introduce tap technology shortly after rollout.
  • Samsung, which leads the local smartphone market, launched its own digital wallet in 2018 and is compatible with most payment methods.
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Huawei will launch its mobile payment service in South Africa on Thursday 3 December 2020. The Chinese telecommunications giant, which has a strong foothold in South Africa’s mid-level smartphone market, will present its secure point of sale application in partnership with Zapper.

Following in the footsteps of Google, Apple, and Samsung, Huawei Pay looks to infiltrate the digital payment arena by replacing card transactions with a quicker scan option. While Huawei intends to include near field communications technology (NFC) – which allows users to tap card machines with their mobile devices to process payments – the initial rollout will only feature QR code scan functionality.

To make use of this function, users will need to download the Huawei Wallet app from the Huawei AppGallery. This feature is only compatible with the Zapper mobile payment system, which, according to Mastercard, is present in more than 20,000 stores across the country.

While Huawei’s foray into the digital payment sector is regarded as a positive first step, its offering lags behind that of its biggest local competitor, Samsung. Huawei’s South African smartphone sales are only eclipsed by Samsung, making competition and the drive for innovation fiercer than ever before.

Huawei’s mobile application offerings have, however, been complicated by an ongoing battle with the US government. Google Play and app restrictions have forced Huawei to reinvent.

Mobile payment services, like Zapper and SnapScan, can be downloaded as standalone applications by both Android and Apple users, making Huawei late to the party. Without device-specific NFC tap technology, Huawei Pay will struggle to compete with Samsung’s digital transaction service.

Launched in 2018, Samsung Pay is supported by all major banks, featuring NFC functionality and magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology, which allows for mobile payments on non-NFC machines. Samsung Pay also includes smartwatch integration, reducing the reliance on mobile phones at points of sale.

Both Huawei and Samsung Pay ensure secure transactions by encoding card numbers and restricting vendors from accessing banking information. Additionally, all transactions will need to be authenticated by a passcode or fingerprint, which prevents unauthorised usage in the event of a user’s phone being stolen.

With Apple and Google Pay hesitant to enter the South African market, Samsung dominates the local mobile payment service space with its accessible tap-to-pay functionality.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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