Smartphone payments

While paying for your coffee or groceries, or even major event tickets by tapping your phone may have seemed inconceivable only a few years ago, smartphone payments are now a reality with the advent of near field communication (NFC) technology – which allows two electronic devices placed within a close distance to each other to exchange data.

Because NFC chip-carrying smartphones are widespread these days, it only makes sense for smartphone users to pay for their purchases with their beloved devices at the point of sale – without having to produce a credit card. Here, we will take a closer look at two similar, but not quite identical mobile payment solutions offered by the smartphone stalwarts – Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Apple Pay

Launched in October 2014, Apple Pay is a mobile payment and ‘digital wallet’ service. It is compatible with a range of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks as well as the Apple Watch. Additionally, newer MacBook Pros come with a feature called the Touch Bar, which allows online shoppers to complete their purchases by simply pressing their fingertip against the Touch ID sensor.

To pay for your purchase with Apple Pay, you’ll just need to hold your Apple device to the POS (point of sale) system. If you’re using an iPhone, you will need to authenticate the transaction by pressing your fingertip against your phone’s Touch ID sensor. On the other hand, Apple Watch owners will need to authenticate by double clicking a button on the device, and activate Apple Pay with a passcode which remains active for as long as they wear the watch.

You can add payment cards to Apple Pay in three ways:

  • Through your iTunes account;
  • By uploading a photo of your card;
  • By manually entering the card information.

As well as keeping your purchases private, Apple Pay offers users “an easier way to pay within apps”, where they can make secure purchases within a range of apps by using eligible cards stored in their Apple Pay.

Samsung Pay

Not wanting to be outdone by their Silicon Valley-based rival, Samsung Electronics came up with their own mobile payment/digital wallet feature – Samsung Pay. This electronic service launched in Australia in late 2016.

Much like Apple Pay, compatible devices for the South Korean counterpart include Samsung phones, tablets and the Gear S2 smart watch (operational when transacting on NFC terminals) – but not laptops.

Samsung Pay currently works for the following credit cards in Australia:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Citibank.

Unlike Apple Pay, Samsung Pay does not store your account or credit card numbers on your electronic device. Instead, the handset sends two bits of data to the payment terminal when you make a purchase – a 16-digit token containing the credit or debit card number and a one-time secure code generated by the phone’s encryption key.

In addition, participating Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank and Westpac offer the Tap and Pay app – compatible with a range of Samsung phones and available from Google Play. After you’ve entered your credit card information, it is stored in a secure token. Like with Apple Pay, you authenticate each transaction with either your fingerprint or PIN. The app randomly generates unique PIN numbers for every payment.

Which payment system is better?

There is no definitive answer to the above question – this is entirely down to one’s personal preference and their respective smartphone.

On top of our summary, the pros and cons of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are widely documented across the internet. And while the former system was launched first, works across a wider range of electronic devices and can be activated even when your phone is locked, the latter arguably offers more security and generally works in places that have older terminals. Whichever one you choose, remember to exercise due care when storing your credit card details!