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How will Samsung Pay compare to Apple Pay?

Michael Simon | March 5, 2015
Besides its catchy name, of course!

As soon as Tim Cook unveiled Apple Pay back in September, two things were instantly clear: 1) Contactless payments had arrived; and 2) Samsung was going to copy it. So when Samsung unveiled its next flagship phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, on Sunday in Barcelona, I followed along with great interest, ready to snicker at its iPhone-like curved edges, fingerprint sensor, and perfectly circular speaker grilles.

Samsung's gotten so good at this game, it's not even fair. About halfway through the presentation, it was announced the new phones would have a mobile payments system called ... wait for it ... Samsung Pay. And suddenly, I couldn't point and laugh. Besides the Single White Female-level name copying, this service, which launches in the U.S. and South Korea this summer, sounds like it might actually one-up Apple Pay. Here's what you need to know so far, and why this could still be good news for Apple Pay users.

Really, they called it Samsung Pay?
Yeah, they did. They went there. But Samsung didn't bite Apple's naming style just to troll us. Earlier this year, Samsung bought LoopPay, the company that invented Magnetic Secure Transmission technology to conduct wireless payments without NFC. So the pay part might actually be more apt of a name--Samsung Loop just sounds silly.

So how does it work? How do people store cards?
The main benefit of Apple Pay is its end-to-end ease of use, and Samsung has gone to some considerable length to mimic it. Adding a card to be used is nearly identical to Apple's---either type in the numbers and expiration date manually or scan it with the camera---and it'll be ready to access the next time you need to pay for something.

Is accessing those cards as easy as Apple Pay?
With Apple Pay, your stored cards magically appear on the lock screen when your iPhone phone comes in contact with a compatable payment reader, but Samsung's method isn't quite as automatic; cards are accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

Will it work in the same places?
As you might have guessed, Samsung Pay will be able to be used at the same stores that accept Apple Pay, but Galaxy users have a serious advantage. Since Samsung acquired LoopPay, the phones also sport MST technology, which allows it to be recognized by stores with magnetic credit card readers (you know, like almost all of them) giving Samsung Pay a far wider reach than Apple.

How do I use it?
If you've ever used Apple Pay, you'll already have a pretty good idea of how to use Samsung Pay. Like Apple Pay, the key is your fingerprint; when you're ready to pay, swipe to select the card you want and authenticate with your fingerprint. However, there's an extra step: Samsung Pay users also need to tap their phones to the card reader or register's magnetic strip.


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