Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and how do I use it?

by: Lanh NguyenMarch 5, 2016

Mobile Payments is an ever growing market with OEMs attempting to replace the traditional wallet with your smartphone, but most of them have very similar feature sets. While Android Pay and Apple Pay both use the NFC standard to communicate with payment terminals, this requires retailers to upgrade their hardware to accept contactless payments.

samsung-logo-mwc-2015-8Related: Samsung Pay may support phones from other brands in future5

Recognising the need to offer support without requiring retailers to pay for costly hardware upgrades, Samsung has taken a different approach to mobile payments, by encompassing all that Android Pay has to offer and adding additional support. Unlike the current incumbents, Samsung Pay supports MST – Magnetic Secure Transmission – alongside NFC, which means it works with any payment terminal that accepts contactless payments or the more traditional method of swiping your card through the reader.

What is Samsung Pay, how does it work and how do you use it though? Which banks are supported and does MST actually work or is it just a fancy term for a marketing gimmick? To help answer your queries and showcase Samsung Pay in the real world, we attempted to use the payment solution in a series of local shops and national chains.

Samsung Pay pressRelated: Samsung Pay expanding to Australia, Singapore, Brazil, UK, Spain and China16

Some already supported mobile payments and others offered the more traditional method of swiping your card and – on paper at least – Samsung Pay should work with any of these. Did it work though? Let’s find out – watch the video below and join us for a tour of Samsung Pay and some examples of where it did – and didn’t – work.

As a reminder, Samsung Pay only works with selected Galaxy smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge.

On paper, there’s no denying that Samsung Pay has a lot to offer but with less supported banks than Apple Pay or Android Pay, there’s still parts of the service that the Korean OEM needs to improve before it can become truly mainstream. By far the biggest issue is that, while Samsung Pay does support MST, some payment terminals can struggle to decipher the data and in some cases, it can even crash the payment computers.

Samsung Gear VR CES 2016-AANow read: Where the consumer technology world is headed in 20162

Overall, it’s easy enough for any OEM to offer mobile payments through NFC but in the case of Samsung, the company’s different approach does work for the most part. Yes, there are teething problems and they definitely need to increase the number of supported banks, but while the competition requires upgraded hardware, Samsung Pay’s support for MST means it’s accepted in a much wider range of retailers.

Galaxy S7 line-up in video:

What do you think of Samsung Pay and do you use it on your Samsung smartphone? What about Android Pay and other mobile payment solutions; do you use any of them and if so, which ones? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!

  • Neil Lund

    Still patiently waiting for them to add support for my favorite credit union. Happy with it nonetheless.

  • Jazbec

    Anxiously awaiting expansion to other countries in Europe …

    • saksham

      india and parts of south asia as well “_”

    • Chris

      Quit drinking tea and masterbating to princess Diana and the Queen and you may get it

      • Jazbec

        Europe is not only UK, you know?

        • DaHitman

          I don’t like being classed as European, the UK isn’t connected to the EUSSR

      • fredphoesh

        stop nominating complete morons like Donald Trump as “politicians” and you will have an opinion worthy of hearing.

        • JayQ330

          LMAO! Damn it, I’m American & I have to deal with idiots that look up to trunk as the American patriot Messiah, ?….

    • Lloyd Watkin

      Most countries in Europe don’t have ancient banking systems. I don’t think I’ve swiped a card in over a decade. Most places have contact less (in the UK). Samsung pay is dead technology outside of the US

      • fredphoesh

        not at all. I often go out without a wallet and wish I could pay with my phone…

      • excalibur1812

        Yes, just corrupt, tyranical governments that freeze and seize your bank accounts. Yes, this diabolical new world order has already taken root in the U.S., it’s just not full-blown. But Obama is working on it.

        • John Bokilo

          I didn’t quite get your point!

      • JRomeo

        Samsung phones can use Samsung Pay wherever there are terminals where you swipe your card, and if the cashier doesn’t have an option for swiping a card, then you can install Android Pay on your samsung phone, and just tap-to-pay with your phone.

        • JayQ330

          Samsung pay uses NFC also…. I’d rather use Android Pay anyway, & all the stores I’ve been to in my state NY has wireless terminals. But yeah, Samsung pay uses both Tech’s

  • alex2792

    It works surprisingly well with non NFC terminals,but very few supported banks is a problem.

  • drdexter1989

    Wells Fargo Bank is now supported. No problems so far with my debit card. I have a SG6 Edge+

  • Chris

    You can use it anywhere witch is a huge plus. Google and Apple need to take notice. Merchants are not gonna somehow magically update their POS terminals over night. It costs money to do so.

    Kind of surprise apple didn’t do it with MST. their ceo is an American with a fully functional developed brain.

    • JayQ330

      Samsung bought “Beep’n’Go” before anyone thought it’d be a good idea to own those juicy patents… You can use your Wal-Mart, target, CVS, & Dwayne Reade club cards for those discounts & bonuses…I think Steve was writing his *nuclear war on Android speech* & missed his chance. Nuclear war lol

  • RC

    I use it with American Express. Most sales people say that will not work here because we have not upgraded our readers. They are amazed when it does. It simply works just about everywhere I try it. I have a Galaxy S6

    • JRomeo

      I wish i could see the look on their faces. I imagine their reactions. Has any of them ever accused you of performing some sort of fraudulent hack/wizardry/black magic/ on their point of sale terminal, lol

      • RC

        Yes, at least on two occasions they thought i was scamming them some how. Got pretty noisy with multiple managers involved. i suggested they call their corporate IT people and when they did they came back red faced and very apologetic. One even gave me a $20 dollar gift certificate for my trouble. By the way these were national retailers.

    • Jnarowe

      Crashes my terminals. Shuts down my card readers. And so many “smart” people refuse to listen, thereby shutting down my cash register lines.

    • Dan-Kelley Young

      6 months later and I’m still getting those looks. Especially at the pharmacy.

      Here is $5 cash back code for new samsung pay users – 94EB2A

  • I’ll just stick to using my contactless payment card. It isn’t any more effort to take my wallet out of my pocket than my phone.

    • John Vu

      The point is that you won’t need to take the card with you – making for a thinner wallet and less chance of losing the card.

  • Marty

    I’ve been using SP. I have trouble with it at On Cue…doesn’t actually work there, but it works better than Android Pay at places it does work. It’s a little more convenient, too.

  • Mark Schacht

    None of the others come close to the widespread acceptance of SP. Because it’s not limited to NFC readers, I’ve been able to use it virtually everywhere! Now that my Wells Fargo debit card is supported, I can’t imagine swiping plastic cards again…except at gas stations, etc. btw I’ve got an s6 edge.

  • David

    I had the same issue at FedEx. Then someone told me that I had to hold the phone whichever way you have to swipe the card. So I turned my phone sideways and amazingly it worked! I have run into this issue a couple more times too, and always turned my phone to whichever way the card slides and it seems to work each time.

  • Fountainman


    It’s pretty good if you have one of the “selected Galaxy smartphones”. It’s not so good if you don’t. Samsung is big, but I wonder why they want to limit their market.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Why would they want to lose an appeal of uniqueness of their phones to competitors?

      If every phone has Samsung Pay’s software, why would I need to buy a Galaxy phone just for the feature when i can have another phone with it for much less.

      • Fountainman

        If every phone had Samsung Pay, Samsung would make more money than just selling phones with that app.

        • Bobby

          it’s not the software problem, it’s the lack of a specific hardware to support samsung pay, the hardware is only found in samsung latest device

  • Dennis Finn

    MST requires special hardware. By making it exclusive with the ability to use it ‘virtually everywhere” they get you to buy their phone.

  • Keithlovindatgyrl Cason

    Chase bank isnt offered in android pay, im using a note edge.

  • fredphoesh

    It can work with non-contactless terminals… which makes it more useful than apple or android pay.

  • Chooee Lee

    It works most of the ime on my S6 Active. I am still waiting for my Capital One card to be supported.

  • Darin Tiernan

    I use Samsung Pay on my S6 edge plus, and it works like a charm. Nothing better than a merchant saying, that won’t work here, to see their surprise once it goes through. Safe and secure, it is great to be wallet less!

  • Rubin Chen

    haha yea it worked in china town in sf. the store owner lost 10$ hahahaha who would have thought he actually bet me…

  • Jnarowe

    Crashes my terminals. Shuts down my POS system.

  • Christopher Concepcion

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    In order to get $5 from using someones referral code(Referral code:604BEF) you have to make a purchase through samsung pay which is really easy and then after you make the purchase, you get $5 from the referral and $20 from samsung.

    Easiest thing to buy is an amazon gift card for yourself through the app. This will trigger the rewards and you still have $5 to use on amazon and $25 free!

    I hope you use my referral code, I did my best to explain how to get this without any effort and without leaving your house. Referral code:604BEF

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  • edub

    Samsung pay is carrier dependent so the app is not even available to download if your carrier doesn’t support it.