The announcement of Samsung Pay arrived as mobile payments
look set to become an increasingly important and lucrative business, with Apple
unveiling its own payment system and a revamped Google Wallet, and possibly an
Android Pay platform, also rumored to be in the works. If you’re curious about
how Samsung Pay will work in practice, Samsung has dished out details on a few
Hardware wise, Samsung Pay makes use of both wireless Near
Field Communication (NFC) and more traditional magstripe credit card readers,
through a technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST). NFC is the
newer of the two and can be found on newer terminals and pay points. It is also
used for data transfer between phones and connecting to NFC tags.
Magstripe is a more established technology in the retail
market and is used at most payment terminals in shops and restaurants. This
means that nearly all stores will be able to accept payments through Samsung
Pay, without the retailer having to upgrade to a new technology. Samsung
believes that 90% of retailers support at least one of these methods.
On the payment side, both NFC and MST use the same credit or
debit card details stored on the mobile device. Visa and MasterCard accounts
are already supported and Samsung is partnering up with additional banks and
credit companies. Storing card data digitally sounds risky, but Samsung Pay
replaces sensitive card data with a unique, secure token for each purchase, to
help prevent fraud.
To make a purchase, users pull up the Samsung Pay app by
swiping up from the home button and select a registered card to transfer the
cash. Transactions are then authenticated using the fingerprint scanner, which
acts as a second safety net to help prevent fraud. It all sounds simple enough.
Samsung Pay will launch in the United States and South Korea
this summer, for free, following a firmware update to the Galaxy s6 and S6
Edge. Europe and China are set to follow afterwards.