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Samsung eyes China, Europe as mobile payments war heats up

Samsung Pay is now slated for a September launch in the US and South Korea -- with China, Europe and more markets to follow.

Samsung Pay will be launching at some point around September. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung's mobile payments service, Samsung Pay, is on its way to a global rollout as it prepares for battle with alternatives from Apple and Google.

Samsung Pay will launch in the US and South Korea in the "September time frame," Rhee Injong, a Samsung executive vice president, said at an investor forum on Wednesday, according to Reuters. Samsung will expand the service to markets such as China and Europe after the initial launch, Injong said.

Samsung Pay, which uses near-field communication (NFC) to let people pay for goods and services by waving their Samsung devices in front of compatible registers, was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in March. The announcement came alongside the unveiling of Samsung's latest flagship handsets, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which will be the first phones to feature the service.

Samsung said at that time that the service would be available in the summer, but given today's comments, it appears Samsung Pay may launch later than originally expected.

When Samsung Pay does launch it will face several competitors -- all trying to claim a piece of the lucrative mobile payments market. Payments made from smartphones totaled $3.5 billion in the US alone last year, according to research firm eMarketer. By 2018, that number will surge to $118 billion. Total worldwide mobile payments could easily dwarf that number within the next three years.

At its annual developers conference last week, Google showed off its previously announced Android Pay service. Google said Android Pay can be used in about 700,000 stores throughout the US and works with MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. Android Pay will also integrate into third-party apps, including Groupon, Lyft and others. It'll launch with the next iteration of Google's Android platform, Android M, later this year.

Meanwhile, Apple Pay is already competing in the space. Apple Pay works at a range of retail outlets and allows users to make payments using the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus and Apple Watch. Apple reported in October that over 1 million credit cards had been activated on Apple Pay within 72 hours of launching the service.

Rhee said on Wednesday that the march to bring Samsung Pay elsewhere around the world won't end in Europe. The company also plans to launch the service in areas such as South America and Australia, though it did not provide a time frame.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.