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What is Samsung Pay?

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Samsung Pay

First it was Apple Pay, then more recently we've seen Android Pay join the mobile payment market. But in between there was Samsung Pay.

You might have forgotten about Samsung Pay, particularly if you live in the UK, where the service is yet to launch. But while it has its limitations, Samsung's mobile payment system has a number of interesting features to recommend it.

Here's a rundown of what Samsung Pay is, who can use it, and when it will be coming to a phone near you.

What is Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is the mobile payment system provided by the world's biggest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung. It can be seen as a direct response to Apple Pay, which came to market almost a year earlier and of course Android Pay.

Sure enough, Samsung Pay works in much the same way. Your debit and credit card information is stored securely on your Samsung phone. You can then make payments at shops and other outlets simply by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to launch the app, authenticating with your fingerprint, and holding your phone near the payment point.

Related: Android Pay vs Apple Pay

Galaxy S7

Like Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung Pay uses Mobile Digital Enablement System tokenisation to secure your payments. This means that your account details are never shared directly with retailers. Rather, they receive unique tokens generated by Samsung Pay for each specific payment. This basically means it's nigh-on impossible for your account details to be swiped in the process of using Samsung Pay.

Samsung's system primarily uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to facilitate these payments, just like Apple Pay and Android Pay, which relies on shops using up to date contactless payment technology. But Samsung also has an ace up its sleeve in the form of LoopPay.

Related: What is LoopPay?

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay's LoopPay idea

Back in February 2015, it emerged that Samsung had purchased a company called LoopPay.

LoopPay is a US-based mobile wallet solution that offers a number of wallet-replacing devices, from mobile cases to key fobs. But its primary innovation - and what Samsung was clearly most interested in - was the way its systems worked even with traditional payment points.

While other mobile payment systems work only with the latest contactless payment technology, requiring retailers to splash out on expensive new gear, LoopPay can offer mobile payments even with old school card-swiping mag stripe systems.

Its Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology emulates the same magnetic field change as a regular card payment, fooling the system into thinking it's dealing with a regular card. The end result: futuristic mobile payments using ancient technology.

Samsung wasted no time integrating this into Samsung Pay, which means it has gained an estimated 90 percent retail support in one fell swoop.

Related: Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay

What about online payments?

Samsung Pay is primarily about shopping in physical retailers right now, though reports suggest you'll be able to make online payments using the system some time in 2016.

You can already make payments within apps using Samsung Pay in South Korea, but that function looks set to make its way to other territories as well before too long.

Samsung Pay lags behind Android Pay on this front, though. Google's experience with Google Wallet means it already enables you to make online payments within apps such as Uber, Groupon, Domino's, hotels.com, and Expedia in the US. Google has established a 'Buy with Android Pay' button for developers to incorporate.

Samsung Pay launch history

Samsung Pay launched on August 20, 2015 in its native South Korea. It then made its way over to the US a month later, and more recently in China in March 2016.

It's only available in those three territories for now, but Samsung has confirmed that it will be expanding to Australia Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Spain, and the UK in due course.

When is Samsung Pay coming to the UK?

Recent reports suggest that Samsung Pay could be hitting the UK in May. We should point out that it has already been beaten to the UK market by Android Pay, so British Samsung users can already utilise that if they're eager to get tapping.

Samsung

Samsung Pay device compatibility

Samsung Pay might have greater compatibility with retail outlets, but one of its inherent limitations is obviously that it only works with Samsung devices.

There's a growing range of compatible handsets, though. They include:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Active
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch also now supports Samsung Pay.

WATCH: How does Android Pay work?

Which banks support Samsung Pay?

Over in the US, a number of major banks and credit companies support Samsung Pay, including Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, PNC, and US Bank. More relevantly to those in other territories, both MasterCard and Visa support the standard, as does American Express.

However, one report issued in recent months alleges that Visa won't be supporting the aforementioned Magnetic Secure Transmission feature on Samsung Pay in the UK.

This is far less of an issue than it is in the US, however, as the UK and Europe is much further along in its adoption of next-generation payment standards.

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