Samsung announced that you can now use “eligible” Wells Fargo credit and debit cards with Samsung Pay — bringing its number of supported banks and credit unions up to 70.
It won’t work on rooted devices
Now that the service is live, there is evidence that rooting the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge will disable Samsung Pay. This isn’t surprising since a rooted device is less secure. If a user tries to use Samsung Pay on a rooted phone, they will will be prompted with a message saying, “Samsung Pay has been locked due to unauthorized modification.” Rooting a device is the process of obtaining complete administrative control of the operating system, which can make it more susceptible to hacking, and less secure. There are some advantages to rooting, but the security concerns more than outweigh them for the average person.
If you’re wondering if your Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge is rooted, it most likely isn’t. Samsung (and most other) phones aren’t rooted out of the box, and you would have needed to go through many complicated steps in order to achieve root, of which you would probably remember. How to get it on your phone now
Samsung Pay is available on the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5 devices, and requires an over-the-air (ota) update to work. To check if it’s available on your device, go to Settings > System > About Phone > Software Update. Once you’ve added credit, debit, and loyalty cards, you open the Samsung Pay app with a swipe, choose the card you want to use, and authenticate the purchase with your fingerprint.
Just like most forms of mobile payments, Samsung Pay will use Near Field Communications (NFC) to make payments at point-of-sale systems that accept tap-to-pay. However, unlike Apple Pay and Google Wallet, Samsung Pay will leverage the same technology standard credit cards use, called Magnetic Secure Transmission , which will let the system work at most cash registers, regardless of whether or not they accept NFC payments. So long as the register accepts mag-stripe credit cards, which is something that nearly every single cash register can do, Samsung Pay should work.
It may work on Smart TVs
Samsung’s positioning Samsung Pay as a platform, not purely contactless forms of payment. To that end, the company has announced Samsung Pay on TV, a feature coming to select Samsung smart TVs that’ll expedite the process of paying for content.
Recently, the Korean giant said its mobile payment service hit 5 million registered users and processed around 500 million dollars in its first six months of existence. While Samsung announced Samsung Pay will be expanding to China, Spain, Brazil, the U.K., and Australia at CES 2016, it announced that the service will be available in Canada sometime this year.
Samsung launched Samsung Pay in South Korea on August 20, and in the U.S. on September 28. In mid December, Samsung announced that it has struck a deal with China’s UnionPay to bring its mobile payment system to the country in early 2016. The deal is a big win for Samsung, as UnionPay is the main credit card provider in China. Apple Pay will also launch with UnionPay in the country next year. Samsung extended a partnership with MasterCard overseas, which will allow Samsung Pay users in European territories to activate debit, credit, and reloadable prepaid cards on MasterCard’s payments platform. It will also support Visa and American Express, along with other major payment networks. The full list can be found here.
At first, only Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular supported Samsung Pay in the U.S., but Verizon Wireless subsequently announced on Twitter it had evaluated the service, and would also provide the feature to its subscribers.
Verizon promised an over-the-air software update to enable Samsung Pay on compatible phones, and reports started to spread in mid-October that the software had begun to arrive on some phones, while a post on Verizon’s support pages detailed the update, suggesting a wider launch is imminent. Samsung then released a statement saying that from October 21 from midday ET, Verizon Galaxy phone owners would gain access to the Samsung Pay app on the Google Play Store, which suggests the majority will have received the update by that point, or will do in the very near future.
Online payment support expected in 2016
Samsung’s Thomas Ko, co-general manager for Samsung Pay, has said the mobile payment service will be updated to cover online payments in the U.S. next year. In an interview with Reuters, Ko said online Samsung Pay payments were coming to the U.S. soon, but didn’t provide an exact date outside of 2016, or mention any other countries expected to receive the new feature. Apple Pay operates online through supporting apps, while PayPal and Visa provide a more widespread online payment system already.
Gift cards, banks, and stores that support Samsung Pay
Samsung added 19 new issuers of credit and debit cards in December, including Visa issuers PNC, TCF Bank, CFE Federal Credit Union, Financial Center FCU, Greater Kinston Credit Union, Keypoint Credit Union, Numerica Credit Union, Utah Community Credit Union, Amegy Bank, California Bank & Trust, PenFed; and MasterCard issuers KeyBank, AchievaCU, Associated Bank, Bayport Credit Union, Bethpage Credit Union, Cambridge Savings, USCCU, and Navy Federal Credit Union.
It comes two months after Samsung added 14 banks in October, including: Citizens Equity First Credit Union, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union, SunTrust, Virginia Credit Union, and Navy Federal Credit Union Visa. The company also announced that Discover Cards will be supported early next year. Paying with a gift card doesn’t utilize the MST technology that paying with credit or debit cards uses. Instead, as with Apple Pay or Android Pay, it provides a code that retailers can scan or type in. The company indicated that more gift card options will be added in the coming months.
The MST technology ensures that Samsung Pay supports private label credit cards (PLCC), thanks to partnerships with Synchrony Financial, Blackhawk Network, and First Data Corporation. The company also joined forces with the two biggest credit card providers, the aforementioned MasterCard and Visa, in making Samsung Pay a reality. In the United States, Samsung Pay is supported by American Express, Bank of America, Citi, and U.S. Bank, and JPMorgan Chase credit cards.
The company estimates that some 30 million merchant locations worldwide will accept Samsung pay at launch. In other words, Samsung believes that it has come up with the only mobile payment system that is universally accepted. In contrast, both Apple Pay and Google Wallet only work at select locations where NFC is accepted. Samsung Pay won’t work everywhere — credit card readers that require a physical trigger, like ATMs and gas pumps, aren’t compatible. But Samsung says the Samsung Pay will work at 80 percent of point-of-sale systems when it debuts.
Samsung Pay will be secured with Samsung’s own Knox security software, which is widely regarded as one of the best security systems for mobile devices, as well as ARM TrustZone. Just like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay doesn’t store personal account numbers on the user’s device, and uses tokenization to protect your credit card information whenever you make a purchase. If you should lose your phone, you can lock and disable the device remotely to turn off access to Samsung Pay, thanks to Samsung’s Find My Mobile feature. Samsung Pay is currently limited to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5, but in the near future we will see further support for Samsung devices and perhaps others. Samsung may not limit Samsung Pay to its Android phones, and the Korea Herald report mentions the possibility the feature may be added to Samsung’s Tizen smartphones, although the aforementioned analyst says this “would have little impact on the market,” given Tizen’s limited market reach.
Returning to Samsung’s VP Injong Rhee’s comments, he also confirmed the next Gear smartwatch will feature full Samsung Pay support. Currently, the Gear S2 supports Samsung Pay in a limited capacity. It works at NFC-enabled terminals, but not at regular terminals. As such, the application of Samsung Pay with the Gear S2 is less widespread than it is with compatible Samsung phones, which have MST technology that enables mobile payments at non-NFC terminals. The next Samsung smartwatch would, in theory, have MST and work at ordinary registers, too — just like the phones do now.
Non-flagship phones will get it soon
Samsung chief executive officer of Samsung’s mobile division, JK Shin, confirmed that last month, and executive vice president Injong Rhee — in charge of Samsung Pay — followed up in an interview with ZDNet, saying:
“Despite the strong push from headquarters, and high expectations for it to become a big business, our sales team initially had its doubts. But when Samsung Pay rolled out here, handset sales rose concurrently, and the sales team saw the benefits first-hand. Now our sales teams in other regions all want to do the same.”
Rhee didn’t confirm any of the devices set to receive Samsung Pay support, but did confirm that the update is coming in a few months to “non-flagship” devices. Samsung’s Thomas Ko, an executive working on Samsung Pay, told Reuters in late December “low priced Samsung phones” will have Samsung Pay support in the next year, but didn’t offer any precise dates.
In mid-November, a report in the Korea Herald quotes a Samsung analyst, who states Samsung Pay may come to low and mid-range phones in the first half of 2016. Additionally, an industry source says Samsung will add fingerprint sensors to some of its ‘budget smartphone models,’ an essential part of Samsung Pay integration. Samsung Pay might also be supported by other manufacturers in the future, with Rhee claiming there were internal talks on working with partners to push the payments service onto Android. That might disrupt the peace with Google — the creator of Android Pay — but would be a good way for Samsung to attain more users in the mobile payments market.
Rhee followed up saying “right now global expansion is happening so quickly for Samsung Pay that we are focusing all our energy on deployment,” which means it is unlikely we will see any partnerships in the near future.