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With Apple Pay taking the lead, digital wallets are finally coming to Taiwan

Last year, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission began accepting applications by banks
to implement mobile payments services. This year, Apple Pay will launch with seven banks. Samsung and Google’s competing services are expected to follow soon.

While no official ruling has been made just yet, Apple announced on its official website the start of Apple Pay in Taiwan. The initial launch will involve seven domestic banks: Taishin International Bank, E. Sun Commercial Bank, Cathay United Bank, Union Bank of Taiwan, CTBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank.

Apple Pay was introduced in September 2014 and is currently active in 13 countries, including the US, Hong Kong, and Japan. Using near-field communication (NFC) to communicate with checkout counters, the digital wallet service can be used with either credit or debit cards. Working on iPhone 6 models and upwards, the service is also available on devices like the Apple Watch and newer iPad models.

Instead of having to use their physical cards, Apple Pay allows customers to conveniently pay with their smart devices when in range of NFC-equipped checkout counters. Once a card has been added to Apple Pay, users can easily utilize their devices’ Touch ID to authorize the payment.

Apple also emphasizes the security of its service. Since the transaction process is executed via device-specific encrypted code, the user's credit card number is neither disclosed to the
seller nor stored on the company’s servers.

In addition to being a secure method of carrying out credit and debit card transactions online or in person, Apple also believes that its digital wallet service can be utilized as an EasyCard substitute, allowing users to pay conveniently for daily transportation services.

Samsung Pay and Android Pay to follow suit

Samsung, too, announced last year that it was actively cooperating with seven domestic banks and Taipei City’s Department of Information Technology to introduce its digital wallet solution, Samsung Pay.

Similar to Apple, Samsung hopes that its service will be used in different scenarios, be it to pay parking fees or water bills, or in municipal hospitals. Samsung is also cooperating with iPass and HAPPY GO to provide special points when members use Samsung Pay for payments.

Technology-wise, Samsung Pay is actually even more advanced than Apple’s offering. Whereas Apple Pay needs NFC to work, Samsung’s service also works with older chip or
magnetic stripe based credit card machines.

By transmitting code via magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology, Samsung Pay allows retailers and customers to benefit from digital wallets without costly upgrades to existing equipment.

At the same time, Apple’s popularity in Taiwan itself may be sufficient leverage for retailers to make the switch. Moreover, Google’s solution Android Pay – also reliant on NFC – will soon enter the market as well, making upgrades even more attractive.

While Apple has yet to announce the exact date Apple Pay will enter Taiwan, the wait will soon be over. Be it from Apple, Samsung, or another Android maker, chances are high that your smartphone will soon allow you to make payments virtually everywhere.