Like many people, I long for the day that I can leave my house with just my phone; leaving my bulky, ugly, easily-lost wallet behind. But doing so secure in the knowledge that I can pay for whatever I need to without going hungry or getting stranded. Current and upcoming efforts from Google and Apple allow for some wallet-freedom but I’m still limited to certain vendors that accept Google Wallet and Apple Pay, with many still not equipped to handle them. This is especially true with smaller businesses that simply take a little longer to bring in new payment methods due to cost and necessity.
So as I walk down the street with people staring and wondering if that bulk in my back pocket is my wallet or a sign of poor bowel control, I am still searching for a solution. Samsung clearly heard the first-world cries of the Costanzas (don’t worry if you don’t get the reference) and made a mobile payment system that my pants and I have been waiting for. It’s called Samsung Pay, and on paper it looks awesome. Of all the things Samsung announced today, this one has me the most enthused.
Unlike Google Wallet and Apple Pay, Samsung Pay will not rely solely on NFC to complete payments, adding “Magnetic Secure Transmission” (MST) that is built into the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, and Note 5. You may have heard of MST before but assumed it’s what you get from a dirty motel room. It is a technology developed by LoopPay; a company Samsung acquired back in February of 2015. Soon after the purchase, Samsung put LoopPay’s co-founder, Will Graylin, to work on implementing MST into Samsung devices and software. With it in place, Samsung Pay will work almost everywhere conventional Credit, Gift and Loyalty cards are accepted. The “almost” qualifier applies to anywhere a physical trigger to activate the card read is required you will still have to rely on physical cards. That means in many cases, ATMs and gas pumps will be off limits to Samsung Pay transactions. But that still leaves you with many more locations than current mobile payment services, including the upcoming Android Pay.
Samsung did not skip the importance of security. Using their own Knox service, Samsung Pay will work along the same tokenization method as most other services. What this means is that every time you use it, your actual credit card number is not transmitted or shared. Instead a unique number is created, processed, and then discarded. These are also very secure and sandboxed from other apps that may try to access them.
There is an important feature that sets Samsung Pay apart from its competitors that Samsung surprisingly didn’t touch on. With Apple Pay and Google Wallet, the NFC proximity triggers and activates the transaction on your phone; Samsung’s solution depends on the user to activate it manually. To do so you swipe up from the bottom bezel of the phone. You are then presented with an image of a credit card. From here, you unlock your phone with your fingerprint and choose the payment method. You can still select NFC or hold the phone up to the credit card scanner and use the credit card of your choice. The service can be activated from the home screen or even if the screen is off.
We have yet to try this in the real world environment, but if Samsung can truly deliver what it promised today, I am ecstatically looking forward to leaving my cumbersome, warped, and stuffed brick at home and picking up a Samsung Phone. Say what you want about Samsung, but right now it looks like they are the first to introduce a proper mobile payment service.
Samsung Pay will be available starting August 20th in Korea, in the U.S. on September 28th, followed by China, Spain and U.K. in the near future.
What do you think? I can’t be the only one thinking that Samsung is the first one to get the mobile payment right. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on the usual social media pages.