Samsung has released its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, for select users in India who signed up for its early access program. The service works with all regular swipe-based card machines which support NFC (near field communication) or MST (magnetic secure transmission). The former works by building a high frequency wireless network between the phone and the payment terminal, while the latter creates a dynamic magnetic field between the smartphone and the payment terminal’s card reader.
Samsung Pay’s launch coincides with the ongoing push for digital payment by the central government. However, unlike the existing payment wallets and Payments banks service which work across all phones, Samsung Pay works only with a few mid-range and flagship Samsung smartphones such as the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy A7 (2016) and Galaxy A5 (2016). Unlike the US market, where the service works on some telecom networks only, there is no carrier restriction on using it in India.
Easy to set up
You can download the app from the Play Store. Once the app is installed, register your fingerprint, which will be used for verification every time a payment is made. Your account will be activated once the app gets a verification SMS or email from your bank. Unlike mobile wallets like Paytm, Samsung Pay doesn’t ask users to add money to it. It uses the scanned image of the credit or debit card to generate a 16-digit token number for payments. The token number is randomly generated for every transaction and has nothing to do with your credit/debit card number.
As of now, the service supports credit and debit cards issued by SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Standard Chartered. Cards from Citibank and American Express cards will be added soon.
How does it work?
Samsung Pay allows users to make payments in three steps. The first step involves sliding up on the phone’s screen to launch the app, the second requires the user to tap on the phone’s fingerprint sensor to authenticate user identity and the third involves holding the phone close to the payment machine for payment. To ensure the card details remain safe, Samsung Pay constantly monitors the device for vulnerabilities. Even if the phone is compromised, card information remains safely encrypted in a separate and secure vault.
Is it worth a try?
The fact that Samsung Pay uses both NFC and MST for payments makes it usable at a large number of retail outlets. However, its success will depend largely on how quickly it can process a transaction.
One can’t deny that Samsung Pay will make transactions more secure than using credit/debit card in public places. But as of now it only works with select Samsung handsets selling upwards of Rs20,000, making it inaccessible for many. Also, the service doesn’t allow online payments and can only be used for payments at retail outlets, so we don’t expect it to replace your mobile wallets anytime soon.