For a country that doesn’t generally take kindly to Western technology, Russia seems to be exhibiting unusual openness to wide-scale adoption of foreign digital wallet solutions.
Just a few days after Samsung Pay raised its global availability tally to nine markets, Apple Pay pulls off the latest in its rival one-upping moves by reaching a total of ten territories, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, China, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, and now Russia.
Interestingly enough, while the Android-supporting NFC and MST-enabled mobile payment service can flaunt five local partner names, the iOS and NFC-exclusive product merely works with credit and debit cards issued by one Putin-regulated bank at launch.
Then again, Sberbank is by far the largest, richest Russian financial institution, and at least for the time being, it backs Apple Pay but not Samsung Pay. At the end of the day therefore, it’s hard to say which of the two heavyweight contenders wins this regional battle.
What might ultimately tip the balance is how fast they’ll spread to other banks and retailers, with Apple Pay highlighting use in ATAK, Auchan, Azbuka Vkusa, Media Markt, and re:Store outlets right now. Before long, Eldorado and Burger King should also join the fun, plus presumably Visa in addition to early supporter Mastercard.