Emerging Payments

Samsung's New Android Mobile Wallet Takes a Page from Apple

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If imitation is the sincerest of flattery, then Samsung must really be trying to charm Apple with a new mobile wallet that bears a striking resemblance to the iPhone's Passbook.

The Samsung Wallet was announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 27. The South Korean company's website for third-party developers has also been updated with information about the new app.

The Samsung Wallet runs on Google's Android operating system and mimics many of the features and design traits of Passbook, which was included as a feature in the iOS 6 mobile operating system and stores payment cards and tickets from other mobile apps, typically relying on displayed bar codes for redemption.

Samsung's Pavilion at the 2013
Mobile World Congress.
Image: Bloomberg

"By using Samsung Wallet API, partners can integrate their Associate Apps and Samsung Wallet in the way that they can add their tickets and coupons to Samsung Wallet," Samsung's developer website reads.

The wallet's integration tools are being released to specific app developers on March 7 and the tools will be offered publicly in May, according to the developer website. According to press reports from Samsung's presentation at the Mobile World Congress, merchants that have signed on to integrate with the wallet include Advanced Media, Belly, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Lufthansa, Major League Baseball and Walgreens—many of which also integrate with Passbook.

The wallet's functionality includes categories for different types of passes, tickets coupons and loyalty cards. The wallet also presents time- and location-based push notifications and real-time updates on membership card points and changes to boarding passes.

A YouTube video of Samsung's presentation demonstrates the integration between the wallet and the Lufthansa app. After a consumer uses the airline's app to check in to a flight, the passenger then loads a digital boarding pass into the wallet. The quick-response code ticket appears in the "Airline Tickets" category of the Samsung Wallet.

While many of Samsung's smartphones include Near Field Communication chips, Samsung Wallet does not include NFC integration and thus can't use NFC for mobile payments. While the iPhone’s lack of NFC capability also puts the contactless payment method out of reach for Passbook, another Android-based wallet does offer NFC redemption. And Samsung's mobile wallet launch follows an announcement earlier in the week that the company is partnering with Visa to make the card network's PayWave contactless payments technology a standard feature on Samsung's NFC-equipped mobile devices.

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