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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.

The experience ramped me up enough to ask a clerk at one of the airport gift shops if she wouldn’t mind holding my phone up to the credit card machine behind the counter when it was time to pay for a mug I was buying for my Dad. She gave me an annoyed look that suggested she clearly wasn’t interested in honoring my request, so I put the phone back in my bag and whipped out my debit card instead.

Samsung Pay works with a variety of POS terminals, including this big honkin’ one from Micros that you typically see at restaurants.

Two days later, I took Samsung Pay out on a spontaneous shopping trip after work near the Westfield Mall in downtown San Francisco. I went to Forever 21 first. Again, I used to swipe-up-and-fingerprint method to begin paying for two tank tops. As I held the phone up to the credit card reader, the clerk warmed me that Forever 21 doesn’t accept mobile payments. “That’s okay,” I told her. “This uses magnets.” Immediately after I said this, the phone chirped back to confirm that the transaction had gone through. Success! The clerk on the other side of the counter went wide-eyed, and then exclaimed, “I had no idea we could even do that!”

I went to H&M next, Sweden’s third-best import (after IKEA and ABBA, of course). I found a nice work shirt for my fiancé. I brought it up to the counter to pay for it and, again, used Samsung Pay’s nifty Lock screen shortcut to start the transaction. The clerk reminded me that the Swedish Clothing Empire does not take mobile payments. I explained to her that I was in the beta program for Samsung Pay and that I was trying it out. She seemed fine with my experimentation, despite the line that was forming behind me. Then, as the receipt popped up to confirm that the transaction had been successful, the customer behind me remarked, “I guess you learn something new every day!” I was learning how to use Samsung Pay.

My first mobile payment snafu

Banana Republic is where I eventually hit a snag in my impromptu shopping trip. The company uses brand new EMV-enabled credit card readers that allow you to insert your card all the way or swipe it through. Again, I performed the swipe-up-and-fingerprint dance like with the last few transactions. I held the card up to the side of the machine where you’d typically swipe a card. The phone vibrated and then chirped, as if to accept the transaction, but then the credit card reader flashed an embarrassing “DECLINED” on the screen facing me. I asked the clerk to let me try the transaction once more and, again, it chirped that was working, and then denied the payment method. I had no idea what went wrong.


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