Paying with your phone has always been a confusing experience thanks to competing standards and scattered compatibility. Samsung Pay is a new payment system that it says works everywhere you can swipe a credit card—but only on Samsung’s newest phones.
In this video, we took a Galaxy S6 Edge+ out on the town equipped with the new payment system to see how how it actually works.
Watch the video above!
Samsung Pay is available starting today in the U.S.—with a few caveats thrown in. You need a Visa, Mastercard, or American Express card issued from Bank of America, Citi, American Express, or U.S. Bank. If you’re financial planets align, then it’s time to check out Samsung Pay.
In the time I spent paying with Samsung Pay’s beta release, it became clear to me that the technology does work mostly as advertised. I was able to pay at locations that didn’t officially accept mobile payments of any kind, and the process was the same as using an NFC terminal. You scan your fingerprint on the phone and hold it near the card swiper. Simple. The biggest stumbling point was having to explain to confused cashiers that this was actually going to work.
It was great entering a store and not having to look for an NFC terminal, or wondering which standard it supported. If I saw a swiper, I could be reasonably confident that this was going to work.
Despite the fact that Samsung Pay works in more places than Apple Pay, or any other mobile payment system, I was still left underwhelmed. There are still many, many places that don’t let you swipe your own credit card—the key mechanism by which Samsung Pay works. Bodegas, gas stations, coffee shops—most of the time you end up handing your credit card to a cashier.
Samsung is making a big deal out of the fact that their system works with Square readers. But most of the time you hand-off your card to a salesperson who swipes it through a Square reader. Unless you are comfortable handing them your phone and explaining what to do (most people are not), this makes any mobile payment system moot.
Mobile payments are a great promise of the future. Samsung Pay may fulfill this promise better than any provider yet. But even with rock-solid technology, the infrastructure just isn’t there to make it a replacement for your physical cards.
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