WeChat and Alipay disable Samsung fingerprint payment option

Samsung acknowledged the security flaw last week.

Two of China's leading payment giants, who hold more than 90% of the local mobile payments market, have disabled the fingerprint payment method for Samsung's two flagship models, the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 devices, after it was revealed that they had severe fingerprint sensor faults.

WeChat Pay, owned by Chinese technology giant Tencent, disabled the fingerprint payment option for the affected Samsung models on Monday after the company was informed of the fingerprint security flaw at 17:00 local time on the same day, Chinese reports said on Wednesday, citing a statement from Tencent's payment arm.

Alipay, the popular mobile payment platform owned by the Alibaba-backed Ant Financial, has also shut down the finger payment method on the affected Samsung models, according to the same report.

Meanwhile, Chinese banks including the Bank of China have also disabled the fingerprint log-in function for its mobile banking app services on the affected devices, the lender said in an announcement.

Samsung said last week that it would release a software patch to address the bug in the ultrasonic-based fingerprint scanner on Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices after The Sun discovered that anyone's fingerprint could unlock a Galaxy S10 or Note 10 device.

Samsung has reportedly fixed the fingerprint recognition issue by sending out an update to its Galaxy S10 and Note 10 smartphones on Wednesday. 

"Samsung Electronics takes the security of products very seriously and will make sure to strengthen security through continuing improvement and updates to enhance biometric authentication functions," the company reportedly said on its Korean app.

The safety of mobile payments is a major issue in China as nearly half of the country's population uses smartphones to make payments for online and offline orders. 

As of June this year, more than 600 million people in China used mobile phones to make payments, up nearly 38 million compared with 2018, a China Daily report said in September, citing data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

As the two dominant mobile payment services providers in China, Alipay owns more than 53% market share in China's mobile payment market in the first quarter this year while Tencent's mobile payment owns about 40%, local research firm iResearch said in a note in July.

A WeChat Pay executive said in August that the platform on average handles over 1 billion mobile payments on a daily basis.

But the Samsung fingerprint saga is believed to have little impact to most Chinese consumers as less than 1% of smartphones in China are from the South Korean technology giant. Samsung only sold 700,000 units of its smartphones in China during the second quarter of this year, according to a local report in August.

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