Following Apple’s lead Samsung and Google each announced mobile payment services of their own with a similar naming structure. The recently announced Samsung Pay and Android Pay will both make use of fingerprint biometrics to authenticate transactions as well as tokenization, although all three systems have their similarities and differences.
Both organizations announced their planned mobile payment developments at the Mobile World Congress event held in Barcelona. Samsung Pay is expected to launch this summer in South Korea and the United States with a release in Europe planned later. At this stage it is uncertain when Android Pay will be available to the public but it is known that Visa, MasterCard and American Express will support it and there is likely to be more information coming at Google’s annual developer conference in May.
Google’s announcement of Android Pay was interesting considering that Google Wallet already exists, but it is important to differentiate these two services from one another and compare them to Apple and Samsung’s offerings. Android Pay is a mobile payments API (application program interface) that will facilitate paying from a mobile device with mobile eCommerce transactions as well as in-store mobile payments. Google Wallet will remain a separate service but will rely on the Android Pay framework. Whereas Google Wallet is a product consumers use Android Pay is not a mobile app, rather a platform that developers integrate into their mobile apps to facilitate payments via the Android Pay API.
In other words, consumers will continue to use Google Wallet for contactless mobile payments at the point-of-sale, but Google Wallet will run over the Android Pay platform. Additionally, merchants and app developers will be able to add the Android Pay API to their apps to accept remote payments from mobile devices, similar to how Apple Pay supports mobile payments within iOS apps through their developer API. The Google Wallet and Android Pay tandem is a similar to Passbook and Apple Pay. One component is the mobile wallet application consumers use for in-store purchases while the other component is the platform for facilitating payments both in-store and over the mobile internet.
With Samsung Pay, however, the only announced details are around in-store payments. Following Samsung’s acquisition of LoopPay many believed a mobile wallet was imminent, and the device maker wasted little time before announcing plans for the new wallet coming this summer. Samsung Pay will only work on their latest smartphone model, the S6, similar to how Apple Pay requires the latest iPhone model. Samsung Pay and the Galaxy S6 support NFC, but do not require merchants to do so. The technology Samsung acquired with LoopPay enables transmission of needed payment data to traditional magnetic-stripe card readers, meaning most retailers will be able to accept these payments right away when the mobile wallet launches.
Each mobile payment system has their own set of features, capabilities and relative advantages. All three utilize Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for making mobile payments at the point-of-sale, although Samsung Pay is the only one that does not require it. Additionally, each of these payment systems will make use of finger print readers to authenticate payments, and each will store and provide tokens in place of the full payment card number.
There are a handful of differences between the mobile payment systems, however. With Android Pay payment card information is tokenized but stored locally, meaning an internet connection is not required to complete payment at the point of sale. The other major advantage for Google’s mobile payment offering, due to the recent partnership/acquisition with Softcard, is that Google Wallet will come preloaded on many new smartphone models from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, the three carriers that founded Softcard. This gives Google the same benefit Apple has of having the mobile wallet pre-installed on all devices, while giving consumers more freedom in what devices can support the mobile wallet.
Samsung Pay will hit the market with a major advantage in that consumers will be able to use it most anywhere thanks to the technology Samsung acquired with LoopPay. So far Samsung has only shared details about using their mobile wallet at physical stores, not for streamlined online purchases from a mobile device. This, along with the fact that MasterCard is the only card association officially supporting Samsung today, are the biggest disadvantages. It is important to also consider, however, that Samsung’s major advantage may not last as NFC-enabled payment terminals become more common, and that Samsung has time to sign on more card associations and issuers to participate.
Google is further building out their mobile payments infrastructure to better support making payments over their platform from a mobile device and better compete with Apple Pay, while Samsung is new to the game and seems to be focusing only on point-of-sale mobile payments for now. Both have also taken pages out of Apple’s book making use of tokenization and finger print scans, and Samsung has features for users to take pictures of payment cards to add it to their mobile wallets as well. It is likely that Apple Pay’s success influenced Google and Samsung’s recent acquisition and partnerships, and all three will be competing in the market before too long.
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