One of the key features of Samsung's latest flagship devices is the company's embedded mobile payment platform, which lets you make purchases just by holding your phone up against a payment terminal. Called Samsung Pay, the system is supposed to work at more merchants than rival system Apple Pay, thanks to its magnetic-secure-transmission technology. It hadn't arrived in the United States -- until today.
Owners of the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus or Note 5 on the AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular networks can start using Samsung Pay today, provided they have participating MasterCard, Visa or American Express cards issued by Bank of America, Citi, American Express or U.S. Bank. Samsung said it will continue to "expand its partnership ecosystem" over time.
Once you've set up your account, you can pay for your purchases by holding up your phone to a magnetic-stripe card reader or near-field communication (NFC) card reader, swiping up on the app's home button and scanning your fingerprint (on the device's home button) to authorize the transaction.
Samsung Pay is different from Apple Pay, Android Pay and Google Wallet in that, while the other three use the NFC protocol exclusively to transmit credit card information, Samsung Pay can also mimic regular magnetic-stripe cards, which have been accepted at millions of stores worldwide for decades. You'll be able to use your phone to pay at the majority of credit-card accepting retailers, including your corner deli. (Samsung says the system will also work with the EMV or "chip" card technology widely used in Europe and being introduced in the U.S. this fall.)
Since its launch in Korea in Aug. 20, Samsung Pay has accumulated a tidy 1.5 million transactions totaling a volume of $30 million. We'll have to wait to see how well it does in the U.S..