Samsung Pay (finally) launches in the UK

If you own a Samsung smartphone, there’s now a new way to pay...
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Samsung Pay (finally) launches in the UK

About time

Samsung Pay has taken its time to come to the UK (first announced at the same time as 2015’s Galaxy S6). But now it’s arrived, how does it stack up against Google’s mobile payment platform, Android Pay? Here’s everything you need to know...

How does it work?

Pretty much exactly the same way as Android Pay. It uses your phone's NFC (Near Field Communication) chip to let you make contactless payments by just holding your phone to the terminal.

With Android Pay, you just need to have your phone unlocked to make a payment, but Samsung Pay requires you to use your fingerprint or enter a pin each time. And, if you have an S8 or S8+, you can use the phone's built in iris scanner.

One of Samsung Pay’s biggest selling points in the US hasn’t made it to the UK version. The much talked about magnetic secure transmission (MST) lets you hold your phone against the magnetic strip on older terminals that didn’t have contactless, making them contactless by proxy. The reason it hasn’t come? Samsung believe that contactless is now so much more widely spread in the UK, there was very little reason.

Which smartphone do I need?

Unlike Android Pay, which is available on any Android smartphone with an NFC chip, Samsung Pay is restricted to selected Samsung devices.

It’s currently available on the Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, S6 and S6 edge. And Samsung say that other devices, including the Galaxy A series, will become available in the following months.

Which banks does it support?

Not many…yet. On launch, you’ll be able to use Visa and Mastercards issued by Santander, Nationwide and MBNA. Later on, first direct, HSBC and M&S Bank are coming on board. And most interestingly, American Express have agreed to use the technology, which isn’t available on Android Pay.

How is it different?

There is one unique difference, which is really only useful if you use public transport in London.

Samsung have worked on a special feature with Transport for London that means you can setup a card as your default transport card. And as long as the phone is turned on, you just tap it against the reader and away you go. The screen doesn’t need to be turned on, you don’t need to enter a pin number or your fingerprint. It’s as easy as tap and go.

Does that make it a game changer? Well, in London, possibly. It’s a bit annoying waiting behind people at tube gates who insist on using Android Pay or Apple Pay, as it takes far too much time to open the phone and use the fingerprint. So, people who do use their smartphone often have to contend with lots of glares and huffs.

With an otherwise similar user experience, that could be the feature that wins people over, especially if Samsung starts offering incentives for us to switch too.

So, are you going to make the switch? Do you use a mobile payment system? Let us know in the comments below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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