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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.

I have never paid for anything with my phone before. Coffee, transit tickets, groceries, clothes—I typically pay for all of those things with cash or card.

When Samsung announced Samsung Pay, and then Google announced it would essentially rebrand Google Wallet as Android Pay, I realized that I had to change my shopping habits. It wasn’t easy. I’d fluctuate from feeling anxious at the beginning of the transaction to feeling extreme elation once it was successful. Every mobile payment experience was an emotional one.

Paying with my phone through Samsung Pay and Android Pay now feels a little more commonplace. However, even though I’ve become more confident about using either out in the wild, there have been too many situations that have left me feeling like I still can’t completely leave my wallet behind.

My first mobile payment

My first mobile payment experience was with Samsung Pay, which is easy to set up. You just place your credit or debit card on the table and scan it in using the rear-facing camera on your phone. Afterwards, Samsung Pay asks you to verify the security code on the back of the card and, depending on your bank, enter in a security code to verify that you are who you say you are.

Like Android Pay, Samsung Pay uses NFC, but it can also pay for things using a technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), which Samsung acquired when it bought LoopPay. MST utilizes a magnetic coil located on the inside of the back of the device to emulate a physical card’s magnetic stripe swiping through a swipe reader. The problem is that not many store clerks are aware that this sort of technology exists.

samsungpay screen
Samsung Pay lets you swipe through to choose a payment method. When you’re ready, it’ll give you about 15 secconds to attempt the transaction. 

My first transaction with Samsung Pay was at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. I figured I’d try it out with a robot instead of a real person, so I went for a pricey bottle of Dasani at an Internet-connected vending machine.

samsungpay lockscreen
Samsung Pay offers a handy Lock screen shortcut. All you have do is swipe up and then scan your fingerprint to pay.

I swiped up from the bottom of the Lock screen on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ I was wielding, swiped to the left to select the debit card I wanted to use, and then scanned my fingerprint on the Home button to start the transaction. The app gave me about 15 seconds to hold up the phone to the card reader. I did as instructed and the transaction was flawless. The whole thing happened in under a minute.


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