Money isn’t what we think of it anymore, the times have definitely changed. For the longest time, money came in the form of bills and coins that were stuffed in our wallets – ready and willing to be dispensed at our leisure. However, today’s modern day smartphones are redefining how we pay for goods, products, and services.
Smartphones are rapidly being used for payments – both in-store and online.
We all hate it when we leave the house without our wallet or purse on us, just because of the inconvenience of not being able to pay for stuff. We’re not sure about some of you folks, but we’re more likely to remember bringing our smartphone before heading out the door to our destination; it’s just instinctual. And from the looks of it all, smartphones are rapidly being used for payments – both in-store and online.
At the moment, there are three notable mobile payment systems dominating the scene right now. While it’s arguable to say which of the three has the largest adoption rate amongst consumers, it’s undeniably clear that mobile payments are the future. Over on the Android side, two options are available – Android Pay and Samsung Pay. And on the other side, there’s Apple Pay, which technically was the first to be launched with commercial success.
In this article, we’ll break down the three to give you folks a clear and concise understanding how they compare, as well as providing you with all the information and tools to gauge for yourself which one might be most suitable for you.
Google’s current mobile payment system, Android Pay, actually has its roots established in its peer-to-peer payments service with Google Wallet back in 2011. Fast-forward to 2015, Google acquired the company Softcard, giving birth to what we know today as Android Pay.
The premise of Android Pay is simple! When you log-in to the app on your Android device, which currently supports 70% of the devices out there, you’re given the option to add your payment cards by just simply using the camera to capture the necessary information. Once it’s stored on the device, you can use it to payments at existing points of sale terminals outfitted with NFC (you’ll see the Android Pay logo).
For added security, Android Pay will also leverage the fingerprint sensor in a device to confirm payment within the app. Conversely, those without them, Android Pay resorts to using a passcode to confirm the payment. Even though Android Pay works with exiting PoS terminals with NFC, the biggest hurdle at the moment with it is that it doesn’t have the same broad support of banks and credit cards. There’s just no comparison, which is might be a deal breaker for some.
- Pros: It has the largest pool of supported devices.
- Cons: Fewest supported banks
- Retailers: 64
- Supported Apps: 25
- Upcoming Apps: 13
- Banks: 41
- Countries: In US only, but expected expansion in 2016.
The crosstown rival, Apple Pay, has been attributed by many with ushering mobile payments to where it’s at right now. Introduced back in 2014, Apple Pay has gone on to see the widest adoption amongst consumers, which is pretty telling because it shares many of the same technologies and implementations that Android Pay offers. First of all, Apple Pay leverage the NFC contact method to interact and exchange information with contactless points of sale systems.
Using the iOS Wallet app, users are able to copy their credit/debit card data by capturing them with the iPhone’s camera. Once it’s stored on the iPhone, all that’s needed to initiate the process is to place the iPhone in close proximity to the PoS terminal. From there, the transaction is authenticated by using the iPhone’s TouchID fingerprint sensor. As a whole, the process is pretty seamless, just like Android Pay.
If we’re to compare and contrast Android Pay and Apple Pay, you’ll be surprised to know that there are plenty of similarities. From their ability to work with NFC-based terminals, being an alternative form of payment for purchases in apps, they’re almost similar to each other – with the exception of support.
Expectedly, the latest iOS devices with integrated TouchID sensors are enabled for Apple Pay, but the selection still pales in comparison to what Android Pay has access to. At the same time, though, Apple deserves credit because Apple Pay has far more banks, retailers, and credit card partners under its belt – as well as broader availability in other countries like China and the UK.
- Pro: Largest collection of supported credit/debit cards, banks, apps, and retailers.
- Cons: Limited to mostly newer iOS devices.
- Retailers: 88
- Upcoming Retailers: 22
- Supported apps: 41
- Banks (US): 1199
- Countries: 6
And lastly, there’s Samsung Pay, which surprisingly enough, has one key, distinct advantage that its rivals lack. First and foremost, Samsung Pay works on NFC terminals, just like Apple and Android Pay. All that’s necessary is to just place the device near the terminal, and the two will interact with one another to complete the transaction.
Where it’s unique, though, is that Samsung Pay alternatively offers Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) – wherein a magnetic coil embedded inside of the Galaxy device generates a dynamic magnetic field. That magnetic field effectively allows it to work with traditional credit/debit card terminals, which contains your payment information for a short period of time. This actually mimics the magnetic strip found on credit/debit cards.
In terms of security with this method, MST’s proximity is roughly no more than 3-inches in distance, so unless someone is right up there next to you, it’s pretty secure. Add to that, the transaction and payment information are not disclosed because it’s kept secured through tokenization, which substitutes the card’s number with a unique alphanumeric identifier that’s also encrypted.
The addition of MST widens Samsung Pay’s support in places we go each and every day, so in the event there’s no NFC-based terminal, users can revert to the MST method, which you’ll find to be more commonplace. While it shares an extensive list of supported credit/debit cards, banks, and retailers, Samsung Pay can’t be used for purchases in apps. On top of that, the supported devices are limited to recent Galaxy smartphones.
- Pros: Works on more terminals thanks to the addition of MST.
- Cons: Device support is limited to recent Galaxy smartphones only.
- Retailers: 101
- Supported Apps: 0
- Banks: 133
- Countries: 2 (US & South Korea)
Mobile payments beyond smartphones
As we continue to see mobile payments being adopted by consumers on a broader scale, it should come as no surprise that we’ll have more devices besides smartphones to choose from. One particular segment that’s already generating some headway are smartwatches, which are seen more as complementary options.
Flagships of 2016
Out of the bunch, Apple Pay is the only one to offer mobile payment via a smartwatch; in this case, the Apple Watch. What’s impressive is that it’s the only option that allows payment independent from the master/paired device. Once Apple Pay is set up on the Apple Watch, users can use it to make payments at the same Apple Pay supported terminals – without the paired/connected iPhone nearby.
When the Tizen-based Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch was introduced last fall, the company touted its ability to work with Samsung Pay in the future. Unfortunately, that has yet to happen, even though it’s been mentioned to hit sometime this year. Hey, at least it’s in the works!
Unfortunately for Android Pay, there’s no official word on whether or not we’ll see it available for Android Wear. The platform has a collection of smartwatches in its portfolio already, but we have yet to hear about any whispers about incorporating Android Pay.
Even though we’re seeing this increase in adoption, the biggest question we have to remember is whether they can be our sole source for payments. Yes, cash is one thing, but for it’s nice that we have something that replaces our existing set of credit, debit, and bank cards. We might be delighted by this, however, we have to bear in mind that not all places accept them. Samsung Pay has a slight leg up in terms of having a higher level of success at being accepted at places and locations. Although, we have to bear in mind that it’s not entirely 100% accepted.
Restaurants and gas stations in particular seem to be places where mobile payments have yet to infiltrate on a grander scale. For one, some people might be a bit hesitant about handing over their device to their server/waitress for payment. And for those terminals that require credit/debit cards being inserted to a slot, such as an ATM or those pay-at-the-pump systems at gas stations, they do not accept mobile payments.
- Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and which banks support it?
- Android Pay: What is it, how does it work and which banks support it?
There’s still a lot of work needed in integrating all of our credit and debit card into our mobile devices, but you can certainly expect broader adoption as these services continue to expand.