Travel Tech

After months of preparation, the consumer electronics giant Samsung has finally announced its Samsung Pay system. This mobile payment system is intended to rival the likes of Apple Pay and Android Pay, in what is anticipated to be an extremely important niche in the coming years. It is also notable that this system will launch in the UK before mainland Europe.

Mobile Payment Set to Go Viral

The global NFC payment market alone - NFC standing for Near Field Communications - is predicted to exceed $130 billion per annum by the end of the decade, and NFC is only one type of mobile payment available. Indeed, Samsung has attempted to improve upon the Apple Pay system by offering a magnetic-based mobile payment system as well, which goes by the name of Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST).

Although the Samsung service is currently limited to its own mobile phones, in time it should be possible for the Android-based system to rollout to a wide variety of other manufacturers' devices as well. Considering that there are many more Android phones in circulation than those driven by the Apple operating system iOS, this will almost certainly become a major technology in the foreseeable future.

The decision of the Samsung to launch a mobile payment system is the latest leg in an ongoing battle between the two world's leading consumer electronics and mobile companies. While Apple has had much the better of this contest in recent years, Samsung has nonetheless established itself as a massive player in technology and electronics, being the largest seller of televisions worldwide since 2008.

Samsung has perpetually built on the success of its television business in its range of mobile products. Having introduced the concept of a curved screen in its range of high-end TVs, Samsung then migrated this technology to mobile devices. Smartphones featuring curved displays have since become particularly popular, and it has been tipped by some analysts that Apple will indeed follow suit with its own curved iPhone in due course.

Smartwatch Potential

It is also expected that in time mobile payments will become particularly popular with users of smartwatches. Indeed, this is probably one of the most obvious uses of smartwatch technology, with contactless payments already becoming popular with consumers.

Samsung certainly has major challenges in this particular niche, as the Apple Watch is absolutely dominating the smartwatch market. It has been estimated that the Apple Watch is responsible for around 95 percent of the smartwatch sales in the world. Thus, Samsung must significantly improve on its existing Samsung Gear range if it is to make serious inroads into Apple's dominant market position, even though this is yet to be a significant commercial marketplace for either corporation.

However, this is all irrelevant at the time of writing, as at present Samsung Pay will only work with four smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S6, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 are all compatible with this new mobile payment system, and Samsung in fact announced the latter of these two devices in conjunction with the unveiling of Samsung Pay.

Unquestionably, Samsung is banking on the flexibility of its new payment system to achieve popularity with consumers. Whereas Apple Pay has been held back to a certain extent by Apple's reliance on the NFC system, users of the Samsung technology will be able to access the Samsung Pay immediately at any point of sale machine that accepts credit cards. This is achievable via the aforementioned Magnetic Secure Transmission, which allows Samsung phones to essentially trick standard magnetic strip credit card readers into registering a tap as if plastic has been swiped along them.

Security Concerns Must Be Addressed

On the other hand, although this is a nifty trick, it is also one that will raise certain security concerns. There have been a raft of retail store data breaches in the United States, perhaps most notably related to the rather large Target chain. Naturally Samsung has attempted to reassure consumers regarding this issue, stating that antennas involved in this process are placed neatly away from all other radios within its phones in order to prevent the sort of interference that can cause security compromises.

Nonetheless, many consumers who had been wary of utilising existing mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay have expressed their doubts about the security of the payment system. This is definitely a challenge for providers of mobile payments that must be overcome before such systems are fully accepted.

Samsung also faces issues with regard to support for the magnetic system. Only Visa, MasterCard and American Express will support MST-based, wireless payments through Samsung Pay at launch in the United States. Samsung is working on expanding its raft of approved companies, and is currently in talks with other financial sector institutions.

As mobile payments continue to develop and become accepted by the general public, Samsung Pay will play a significant role in this process. It is certainly a form of technology that travel-related brands and companies should pay particularly close attention to, as it would seem to be one offering particular convenience to tourists.

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