Almost a year after Apple launched its mobile wallet in the U.S., Samsung will bring its version to Android phones.
Samsung Pay will launch in the U.S. on Sept. 28, the global tech giant announced Aug. 13. That timing brings Samsung's mobile wallet to market just a few weeks shy of Apple Pay's one-year anniversary and in line with the expected annual refresh of Apple's iPhone line. This means a lot of iPhone users' phone contracts will be up for renewal when Samsung Pay launches, giving Samsung a chance to win over any disillusioned Apple Pay users.
Samsung Pay's big differentiator is its ability to work at nearly any card-accepting merchant. Like Apple Pay, Samsung's wallet uses Near Field Communication for contactless payments, but unlike Apple Pay it also works with older magnetic-stripe terminals. This is achieved through technology from LoopPay, a company Samsung bought in February. LoopPay's system generates a wireless signal that most terminals interpret as a physical card swipe.
Samsung will pre-load Samsung Pay onto its Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 smartphones, according to Samsung's press release. Its Galaxy S6 and S6 edge handsets will get Samsung Pay as part of a software update due in mid-August. Some users of these phones will get access to Samsung Pay as part of a beta test that begins on Aug. 25.
Samsung Pay began testing in South Korea last month, and the full Korean launch is scheduled for Aug. 20. The company is also taking steps to bring its mobile wallet to the U.K., Spain and China, according to its press release.
"We are partnering with card networks, issuers and acquirers, and Samsung Pay will also be the first to support contactless payment for store-branded credit cards," said InJong Rhee, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics and global head of Samsung Pay, in the release. "The list of partners will only grow."
Samsung's partners include American Express, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Discover, First Data, MasterCard, Synchrony Financial, TSYS, U.S. Bank and Visa.
Samsung will soon have to share real estate with Google's Android Pay, a successor to Google Wallet that will launch this year. As part of an earlier deal to buy the assets of the mobile carriers' failed Softcard wallet, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile agreed to pre-install Google's mobile wallet on the Android smartphones they sell.
Apple Pay will also be getting several improvements this year. Apple has already revealed plans to support private-label and loyalty cards, and is planning to replace its Passbook app with a Wallet app that can manage all of these card and present the correct one automatically.
Samsung's mobile payment strategy has taken many forms over the years. Samsung Pay replaces an earlier product called Samsung Wallet, which launched in 2013 and resembled Apple's Passbook, a wallet for other card and wallet apps. Samsung Wallet was discontinued this year. Samsung has also developed technology that lets older laser bar code scanners read from its screens, and it has entered partnerships to let consumers charge purchases to their mobile phone bills.