NEW YORK Samsung’s LoopPay purchase is coming to fruition. Today the company announced it will turn on its digital payment service, Samsung Pay, in September.
Samsung announced the roll-out at a well attended press event in New York. In addition to its new digital payment option, the company unveiled its latest devices: the Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.
“If consumers always have to guess whether a store accepts a mobile payment it creates a mental friction. I believe in creating a basic technology that removes that friction,” said executive vice president Injong Rhee at a press event in New York.
Like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay will allow device owners to make payments in retail stores directly from their phones. Just swipe up on your screen, select a card, press your fingerprint to the reader or enter a pin number and you’re done. Using both near field communication (NFC) and LoopPay’s magnetic secure transmission technology, Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge Plus can be used to make transactions at 90 percent of retail locations — far more than any other electronic payments application. The technology communicates with magnetic stripe readers, so most retailers who accept credit cards should also be able to accept Samsung Pay. However, merchants won’t necessarily know that they accept the payment method, which could lead to some complications.
And just because there will be more opportunities to use Samsung Pay doesn’t mean that users will take to it. Recent studies show that Apple Pay adoption among iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners has been low. Though the number of merchants that accept Apple Pay continues to expand, only 13 percent of those who can use Apple Pay have ever tried it, according to one report. The two main reasons that people cited for not using Apple Pay are that they are already happy with their existing payment method or that they aren’t sure how it works. In short, most people are happy to use cash or credit cards when they’re out shopping.
The same study also noted that most of the people who have tried Apple Pay don’t use it regularly. When asked why, over a third said they just forgot, and another 30 percent said they weren’t sure which stores accept Apple Pay. It’s that latter group, people who don’t know where digital payments are accepted, that Samsung is trying to appeal to.
But even if Samsung Pay catches on faster among early adopters, that still doesn’t mean broad usage among Samsung S6 users will pick up any more quickly than it has for Apple Pay. After all, mobile payments are still in their early days. To encourage more people to use it, Samsung Pay works with 100,00 retailer branded credit cards, allowing users to collect rewards and discounts for purchases.
Users may also find that merchants want them to use a mobile payment method as security becomes an increasing concern. As of this fall, credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard will hold merchants liable for fraudulent transactions, so merchants themselves may start encouraging shoppers to adopt either mobile payments or secure chip-based credit cards. Samsung Pay encrypts payment information and stores it on the secure element in a phone, much like Apple Pay. Samsung further secures payment credentials through its Knox program, which detects and counters surveillance as a way to prevent phone rooting. Merchants will likely find this compelling — unfortunately, consumers are rarely moved by security measures.
Most importantly, Samsung Pay’s launch indicates that mobile payments are on their way to ubiquity. In fact, once Google’s Android Pay app launches, Samsung users will have a choice of which mobile payment platform they’d prefer to use.
Samsung Pay is currently beta testing in the U.S. through mid-August, but it will become generally availability in the U.S. on September 28. Samsung Pay is expected to roll out to other countries including China, Spain, and the U.K. soon after.