The world’s largest technology companies make so much money that staying in their lane is no longer enough for them. It’s no secret that Facebook and Google have been pursuing non-tech related fields for many years now in search of other streams of income, and now one of the biggest tech companies on the planet is making moves of its own. When you go to pay for your goods in the near future, you might be doing it with a Samsung Pay debit card – and that day might come as early as the end of this summer.
As time goes on, we’re seeing alternative currencies and alternative methods of payment gain acceptance in more and more places. The moment when online slots websites began accepting Bitcoin payments was a major step into the future. It doesn’t necessarily follow that players using Bitcoin to play UK slots online means that Bitcoin is now a widely-accepted currency, but the move showed that the companies that run those online slots websites believe they were missing out on potential earnings by now allowing customers to pay that way. If any industry knows how to make money, it’s online slots and online casinos. Where they’ve gone, others are now following – and that’s encouraging more and more companies to get involved in finance.
As far as we’re aware at the time of writing, the newly announced Samsung Pay debit card won’t come with its own cryptocurrency – but we can’t rule that possibility out yet either. Aside from making the announcement of its impending availability, Samsung has been keeping details of what the card offers from a practical point of view close to their chests. All we know for now is that the card will come with a linked cash management account, and that SoFi will be involved in backing and supporting the new endeavor. Sang Ahn, the company’s vice president, says the move comes as part of Samsung’s desire to spearhead a ‘mobile-first money platform’ movement, although what’s meant by that remains to be seen. The press has been briefed to expect more details in the weeks and months to come prior to the product’s launch.
What ‘mobile money management’ means might vary from one company to another, but many different tech companies are dipping their toes into the same water at the moment. The reason we’re not ruling out the possibility of a cryptocurrency connection is that we’re less than a year out from Samsung’s launch of a crypto-focused version of the Galaxy Note 10, their flagship phone handset. The phone, which by the company’s own admission appeals only to a niche audience, offers users the facility to store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in specially-built cold storage wallets on the phone, therefore avoiding some of the potential risks and pitfalls that come with storing crypto any other way. Having already tried to open the door to crypto, it would perhaps be odder if the Samsung Debit card didn’t work with crypto than if it did.
When the card eventually comes to the market, it will be in direct competition with some similar initiatives launched by the company’s biggest rivals in the world of tech. One of them is Apple, who due to their enormous financial reserves are among the biggest opponents any business could face in any sector. Apple already has a presence in the financial market in the shape of their Apple Card, although their product works a little differently to what’s expected of the Samsung Card. Rather than being a debit card, the Apple Card is actually a credit card backed up by Goldman Sachs and comes in digital or non-digital formats. The card connects to Apple Pay accounts and allows payments to be made through both iPhones and Apple Watches, along with offering tracking and budgeting tools.
When Apple gains a presence or a foothold in the market, you can generally expect that Google won’t be far behind if they’re not there already, and that appears to be the case with financial services. The long-rumored Google product, though, might turn out to be a bigger threat to Samsung’s ambitions than Google’s. Google hasn’t made it to the market yet, but it’s been known for a long time that they’re also working on a branded card on their own. Theirs, like Samsung’s, will likely be a debit card as opposed to a credit card. That being said, it wouldn’t be difficult for either Samsung or Google to find a partner who’ll help them offer credit facilities to customers if they so desire. Both companies certainly have enough money in the bank to offer the service.
All of these developments will likely be watched closely by major banks, who will perceive the entry of brands like Google and Apple into the banking sector as an existential threat. If the companies can offer debit and credit cards, it also follows that they can offer full banking facilities. Both companies – and probably Samsung too – have enough assets on hand to launch a full bank. All you need to open a bank is a lot of money, somewhere to store it, and a base of customers. The world’s biggest technology companies tick all three of those boxes, and it may prove to be the case that customers who already trust the firms with their money and information may decide that it’s easier to put all of their eggs in one basket rather than keeping an old-fashioned bank account that doesn’t offer them any other perks.
Whether or not the idea catches on will be down to the public. As popular and widely-used as the products and services offered by Apple, Google, Samsung and others are, all of them have been the subject of hacks and privacy concerns in recent years, and so trust will be a factor in persuading customers to use them to pay for their purchases. Apple hasn’t yet made significant inroads into the credit card market, but as their service has been online for less than a year, it’s too early to say that they won’t. We might be moving into a whole new world of financial products and services – and it’s a world that belongs to the companies that make your phones.