The Olympics

Samsung Prepares for Olympics With Mobile Payments Rollout in Brazil

Country Has More Active Mobile Phone Lines Than People

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Samsung Electronics is introducing its mobile-payments app in Brazil, a bet that the Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro can be a springboard to more markets in Latin America where phones have become a key gateway to the web.

Samsung Pay, which debuted in South Korea last August and became available in the U.S. in September, will be the only payments system available to mobile-phone users at the Games, according to Haley Kim, the unit's vice president.

South Korea's largest company is competing against Alphabet's Google and Apple to capture a piece of a market that Forrester Research estimates will top $142 billion by 2019. For all three companies, mobile-payments services are a way to entice consumers to pick their devices -- whether it's an Android phone, iPhone or Galaxy.

In Brazil, there are more active mobile phone lines than people. Samsung already has 42% market share there, according to Gartner, and the company is banking on its Pay service to draw in new users despite the country's deepest recession in at least a century.

"The demographic group buying and using these devices in Brazil is more the high-end or premium customers who may not be significantly impacted by this economic crisis,'' Ms. Kim said in an interview in Sao Paulo.

Samsung, a corporate sponsor of the Games, is selling a Galaxy Edge S7 limited edition with the Olympic rings and colors. The mobile-payments system also will be available to users of S7, A5 and A7 models, among others, Ms. Kim said.

Samsung differentiates itself with technology that mimics a magnetic-stripecard when a phone is used with a store's physical-card reader. This lets retailers accept mobile payments using their existing check-out equipment. The same technology will be applied in Brazil, Ms. Kim said.

The company is partnering with Banco do Brasil SA and Banco Santander Brasil SA as local credit card issuers, among others.

Since its launch last year, Samsung Pay has signed up 5 million users in the U.S. and South Korea and reached $1 billion in transaction volume in South Korea, Ms. Kim said. The service is also available in China, Spain, Australia, Singapore and Puerto Rico.

-- Bloomberg News

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