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A week with Samsung Pay, and why Android Pay might still be better

Florence Ion | Oct. 7, 2015
Despite a successful week of using Samsung Pay and Android Pay, I'm still a little wary about leaving my wallet at home.

It was difficult to find an NFC-enabled payment terminal once I headed back out toward the suburbs, though. I live in a relatively small town populated by family-owned coffee shops, antique stores, and hair salons, so it was a drag finding a place that took Android Pay outside of major retailers. 

So, why did I like Android Pay better? Because it just works. I know that’s the marketing spiel of Samsung Pay, but my experience showed that it was not always the case. In one situation—which you can watch in the video attached above—I was trying to buy dry shampoo from a blow dry salon, and though the magnet in the card reader saw the GS6 Edge+ as a credit card, the transaction wouldn’t stick. The receptionist had no idea what to do, and I had no idea what to do, so I just left without any product. Neither of us could troubleshoot the problem and I realized I should have just whipped out my credit card in the place.

nfc icon
If NFC payments are accepted where you’re shopping, you’ll see this symbol prominently displayed on the credit card reader.

NFC is more straightforward. If a retailer accepts it, you’ll see the NFC symbol stamped on top of where you’re supposed to hover your phone. And if something goes wrong, chances are that the clerk on the other side has already been briefed on common issues—or at the very least, they can call on a manager who has.

How secure are mobile payments?

Both Samsung Pay and Android Pay shield your credit card number from the merchant by way of tokenization. Special one-time use codes are swapped between your phone and the reader, preventing the merchant from ever even getting your credit card number. If they're hacked, you've got nothing to fear, because they don't have your card number. My bank also shows the phone number associated with each transaction so that I know which device I used to pay for something.

Returning items with either Samsung Pay or Android Pay is exceptionally easy—assuming the transaction went off without a hitch in the first place, though you have to use the same payment app and card you used for the original transaction because of the tokenization. The returns seem to take longer to process with the bank, however. I am still waiting for a return I did at Green Apple Books to be processed on my account. 

The verdict is still out

pay transactionlog
Both Android Pay (left) and Samsung Pay (right) are supposed to offer a log of transactions for my debit card. But alas.

 

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