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Which is the best contactless mobile payment service for UK customers?

Lou Hattersley | July 22, 2015
Apple isn’t alone in offering a contactless mobile payment service. Both Google and Samsung have announced upcoming rivals to Apple Pay, and Barclays is offering an alternative in the form of bPay. We look at the various mobile payment options available to UK customers, and help you decide which is the one for you.

Pay for TFL travel. Perhaps one of the best aspects of Apple Pay is that you are able to use it to pay for travel in London. All London buses, the Underground, and overground trains will accept Apple Pay in the same way you use Oyster Cards or bank cards. See: How to use Apple Pay on the London Underground

Apple Pay is causing waves in the US where most shops still use a magnetic swipe system along with signatures (and checking ID). In the UK, we've had Chip-and-Pin and contactless payment on major bank cards for a while, so Apple Pay isn't quite the revelation.

Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay

Anything Apple can do, Samsung can do slightly later. Samsung following in Apple's footsteps is something of a running joke in the tech community and true to form, it's not letting us down on mobile payments.

Samsung announced Samsung Pay in May 2015, and it's currently testing the Samsung Pay system out. As with Apple Pay, you hold your finger over the fingerprint sensor and tap a compatible mobile phone to a card reader to complete a payment.

Like Apple Pay the service is designed to work with the company's own phones: in this case, Samsung Pay will only be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6. While further details may become available closer to launch, we understand that it won't work with older Samsung phones (in that respect, it's pretty much on par with Apple Pay, which is limited to the latest generation of iPhones) or the Samsung Gear watch (where it falls down compared to the Apple Watch's Apple Pay compatibility).

Samsung has a big advantage in the US, thanks to its acquisition of a system called LoopPay: this allows the phone to work with magnetic card readers. But in the UK we have contactless terminals everywhere, so there's no real advantage to using Samsung Pay. We're also unsure when the system will launch in the UK. The US launch is due later this year.

Apple Pay vs Android Pay/Google Wallet

In some ways, Google has a real advantage on Apple, having launched its Google Wallet System in the US over three years ago. In which case we're led to wonder why we've not heard more of it.

Google Wallet enables you to make contactless payments in the US, where there aren't any contactless payment systems in shops. (Google Wallet uses a traditional PIN system rather than the finger-scanning option Apple Pay and Samsung are using.) But here in the UK, Google Wallet doesn't seem to offer any advantage over using a traditional Chip-and-Pin card: you still have to enter a PIN.


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