A Conversation with Will Graylin, Co-GM Samsung Pay, Inc.

Will-Graylin-&-Samsung-PayWe recently interviewed Will Graylin, a serial payments entrepreneur who is currently the Co-GM of Samsung Pay, Inc., the U.S. division of Samsung’s new mobile payment service. In this Q&A format we discuss Samsung Pay’s positioning in the payments market and how new technology is improving the consumer payments experience.

Will has started five companies since obtaining two Masters degrees from MIT. LoopPay, his third mobile payment startup, was acquired by Samsung in February 2015 and now operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary Samsung Pay, Inc. Will’s prior two startups were WAY Systems (sold to VeriFone) and ROAM Data (sold to Ingenico), both of which were leading mobile POS & mobile payment solutions providers. Prior to its sale to Ingenico, ROAM was the leading supplier of smartphone POS solutions and mobile readers with millions of units shipped worldwide.

Will’s companies have won numerous innovation awards in the payments industry. Will has been recognized as a “mover & shaker” in the industry and he is regularly invited to speak about mobile payments.

Will served as a U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer for nearly six years, the first naturalized China-born immigrant to serve in this program.

1.  Samsung Pay launched in the U.S. last month. When should we expect to see it in Europe?

We were pleased to launch the service in the U.S. publicly after a month-long beta program. Any customer with Samsung’s latest devices – the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy edge+, or Note5 – on most major carriers and a credit or debit card from one of our launch issuers can now use Samsung Pay almost anywhere cards are accepted. We are excited to extend the convenience and functionality of Samsung Pay to the U.K., Spain, and China in the coming months.

2.  How is Samsung Pay designed to work with financial institutions and what are the key advantages for financial institutions of enabling Samsung Pay relative to other mobile payment applications?

Samsung Pay is designed to be a secure container for payment and membership credentials. We are also a powerful new conduit for issuers and merchants to better engage their customers. We believe paying with your phone is just the start and, once we lay that foundation for consumers to start using their phone as a mobile wallet, there will be a lot of interesting interactive use cases and commerce opportunities to come.

We believe Samsung Pay’s key differentiator is in its technology and universal acceptance. Samsung Pay is the first to combine MST and NFC to provide the most accepted contactless mobile payment solution in the world. MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) is the patented innovation that allows the latest Samsung smartphones to transmit secure tokenized card data to the magnetic stripe card readers of merchants’ existing terminals, whether they be new EMV terminals or legacy mag stripe-only terminals.  MST transmits the same cryptograms as NFC, which are generated in real-time with limited-use keys from Tokenization Service Providers (TSP).  By combining the security of tokenization, the convenience of tap-and-pay, and the universal acceptance consumers get from plastic cards, Samsung Pay has an extraordinary opportunity to create consumer adoption through usage.  Other mobile wallet services do not have ubiquitous acceptance, making it very hard to convince consumers to change their payment habits of using their plastic cards, which work at most stores. Through usage data collected since the launch of Samsung Pay in the U.S. and Korea, it has proven its biggest advantage is its universal merchant acceptance.  Issuers are seeing unprecedented usage patterns from those who have tried Samsung Pay, with as many as 5 out of 6 Samsung Pay transactions being done via MST (with the rest being done via NFC), validating that MST + NFC maximizes acceptance and usage, which is critical for consumer adoption. Furthermore, the universal acceptance can go across borders when consumers travel.  Samsung Pays works globally, virtually anywhere you can swipe or tap your card.

3.  What will be Samsung Pay’s approach to partnering or working with merchants – either for acceptance or for distribution?

We see merchants as key partners in the payments and commerce ecosystem. Samsung Pay will be able to create value for merchants as a secure container for their membership accounts, loyalty cards, gift cards, private label cards, coupons, and offers. In addition, Samsung Pay enables merchants to use mobile payments to drive more consumer engagement immediately without the point of sale system they currently have or will have. Samsung Pay is a merchant-friendly solution for large and small businesses and we intend to build more value into our platform to help merchants better engage consumers in the mCommerce world.

4.  How do you expect Samsung Pay to provide a differentiated customer experience relative to other mobile payments applications in the market?

The strongest point of Samsung Pay is that it will allow the user to make payments with credit / debit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, private label cards with mobile devices using MST and NFC, as well as laser or optical barcodes – we are transmission agnostic and work with what merchants systems accept.

When we add loyalty cards and coupons and other non-payment credentials, Samsung Pay will also enable on-screen display of barcodes. In line with our universal acceptance vision, we will make sure these barcodes work almost anywhere – not just at optical barcode readers but also at the laser barcode scanners in most grocers and large retailers. Samsung Pay will leverage a unique technology that exists only in Samsung hardware to accomplish this. We are excited about eventually enabling consumers to securely store any commerce credentials they want in a wallet that can be used anywhere they want to shop. Convenience is the key, we expect Samsung Pay to have a greater impact in the lifestyles of consumers by extending what they normally do with plastic cards to a safer, faster, and more interactive digital format.

5.  How will Samsung Pay tackle in-app and internet-based payments, which seem to be an underpenetrated opportunity for mobile payments relative to the rapidly developing contactless marketplace?

We see in-app and web payments being a very important aspect of mobile payments and are working on solutions for the market. Stay tuned.

6.  There is a great deal of debate about the trade-offs involved in privacy and data protection regarding mobile wallets. What is Samsung’s view on the trade-off between data privacy on the one hand and richer commerce experiences for consumers on the other?

We believe in putting the individual in control. We absolutely believe in data privacy. People who do not want to share their data should not have to. Samsung Pay will have controls to secure the privacy of these individuals. Conversely, people who want to share their data to obtain relevant deals and offers from merchants they care about should be able to do that as well. Samsung Pay will allow these consumers to opt in to allow their data to be shared in exchange for the right type of offers from their favorite merchants and financial institutions.

7.  How will Samsung interact or coexist with Android Pay?

We believe Samsung Pay and Android Pay can co-exist. Both applications are easy to install or enabled via pre-loaded shortcuts. Both solutions make it easy to load cards from a wide range of issuers. Samsung Pay pulls ahead due to its universal acceptance. Android Pay relies on NFC only to transmit card data. Samsung Pay uses MST and NFC technology for universal acceptance which can make a world of difference in consumer usage and habit change.

Samsung believes in consumer choice, so we allow consumers to use both Samsung Pay and Android Pay in Samsung devices. Consumers will ultimately choose the mobile payment service that is the most useful for them, and we believe having ubiquitous acceptance is a key utility for any payment service. Over time, we will continue to add value and utility for the consumer and believe that consumers will come to prefer Samsung Pay over the alternatives. We also believe that merchants and financial institutions will support any wallet that provides them with clear value and that consumers are using habitually.

As we scale and our value proposition becomes clear, we expect to expand the Samsung Pay experience beyond Samsung devices. We absolutely see Samsung Pay as a larger ecosystem play that will benefit consumers, merchants and financial institutions alike.

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