Samsung Pay, the Korean giant’s own mobile payment system, is now being piloted in the company’s home country, with a number of Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge users trying out the service.
An exact launch date is yet to be confirmed, but Samsung is likely to give more details when it reveals its much rumoured Galaxy Note 5 phablet, expected to be next month.
What we do know is that this is Apple Pay and then some. Samsung snapped up startup LoopPay earlier this year, allowing it to offer contactless payments at terminals that don’t have the latest Near Field Communications tech.
That means users can hover their phones and pay via a magnetic strip as well as at NFC–loaded tills.
That’s not all. Samsung is also going to offer users the chance to secure their payments in two ways. One is via the S6 and S6 Edge’s fingerprint scanner.
So far, so Apple. But it is also promising the option to pay via a PIN, which can be entered on set-up.
Samsung says both methods will be backed up by its Knox security software, which will scan for malicious payments.
However, it’s hard not to think that with more variables, Samsung is leaving its system more open to attack and abuse.
PIN codes are handy, but can easily be spotted and learned by thieves. By contrast, a fingerprint scan is virtually impossible to scam for opportunists.
Apple Pay is clearly having some teething issues at launch in the UK, especially on the Tube.
Users in London have found that they can’t take calls or use the phone in any other way when entering and exiting the capital’s public transport system.
But this niggle aside, Apple Pay remains a smooth ride. And a key reason for that is its singular approach.
You can only pay for stuff via Touch ID. That goes for online payments as well as ones made on the high street. It keeps things simple and, most importantly, it keeps things safe.
Samsung’s decision to offer users a choice can be lauded on the one hand. But on the other, it confuses the picture and makes its offering less stable.
Choice is an illusion at the best of times, especially when it comes to tech. Users want one simple way of paying on their mobile.
It’s why the likes of Barclays’ bPay are doomed to fail. They only serve to confuse and offer something extra when fingerprint scanners are increasingly common and much easier for users to get on board with.
Samsung’s addition of a PIN to its pay platform falls into this category. Why would you use it when you can be more secure with a scan of your finger?
Samsung may want to roll the service out on more devices, specifically those without scanning tech.
But in doing so it could be compromising the safety of its customers and their finances.