Newly launched mobile wallet is easy and convenient
Launched yesterday, it works with traditional credit card payment terminals as well as new contactless ones
Samsung Pay is the new way to pay. Even your cashier may be surprised, goes the tagline of Samsung Pay.
There were certainly many surprised cashiers and taxi drivers when I used my phone to pay for my purchases over the last seven days with Samsung's new digital mobile wallet.
Officially launched here yesterday, the amazing thing about Samsung Pay is that it works with traditional credit card payment terminals as well as new-fangled contactless ones.
That's a really big deal because according to Mr Desmond Tan, head of OCBC's Group Lifestyle Financing division, there are 80,000 to 90,000 credit card terminals in Singapore, of which only 30 per cent of them are using the newer contactless terminals.
All of the previous digital mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, EZ-Link NFC, Singtel Dash and UOB Mighty make use of the phone's Near Field Communications (NFC) close-range wireless technology to transmit data to the contactless card readers.
While Samsung Pay also works on NFC, what makes it stand out from the crowd is that it can also transmit data via Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology, where it emits a magnetic signal that mimics the magnetic strip on a traditional payment card.
All standard credit card payment terminals in Singapore have both an EMV chip reader as well as the older magnetic stripe reader.
I made eight attempts to pay with Samsung Pay over the past week and succeeded in seven of them at The Marketplace supermarket at Hillview, Starbucks at Hillview, Kith Cafe at Park Mall, Saizeraya restaurant at Bukit Timah Plaza, Fairprice Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza, McDonald's at Resorts World Sentosa and in a Comfort cab.
Some of them had contactless terminals and some did not.
The only time I had to resort to whipping out my physical credit card was at 7-11. The cashier reverted to the traditional payment method after the first attempt at using Samsung Pay failed.
HOW IT WORKS
Like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay works by simply "adding" your existing credit or debit card into a compatible phone.
At launch, only four Samsung phones work with Samsung Pay - the Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, S7 and S7 Edge. You need to download the Samsung Pay app and link to your Samsung account.
You also need to register your fingerprint with your phone, if you have not done so. Then, simply add your credit card by using your phone camera to scan your physical card. You can register up to 10 credit cards.
At launch, Visa and MasterCard cards from Citibank, DBS/POSB, OCBC and Standard Chartered can be added. Missing from the list is UOB, which is supported by Apple Pay. American Express cards are also not supported yet, but Samsung says they will be later this year.
The big advantage that Samsung and Apple Pay have over the NFC-SIM card systems such as Singtel Dash and EZ-Link NFC is that the former is simply extending your physical card into the mobile wallet. The latter solutions on the other hand, require you to top-up your wallet before you can use them, which makes it troublesome and inconvenient when you have unused credits sitting in your wallet.
The one big setback is that neither Samsung nor Apple Pay works with the contactless card readers on buses and MRT trains because that system is running on the EZ-Link CEPAS system instead of the common EMV system used by the contactless credit cards and all other NFC-based digital mobile wallets here.
Hopefully, this will change soon.
BY THE NUMBERS
10 The number of credit cards you can register for Samsung Pay by scanning it using your mobile phone's camera.