Andoid Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay

Samsung is finally bringing its payment service to Europe, starting in Spain. There’s a catch though – Samsung Pay will only work with NFC terminals, at least in Spain.

The launch comes six months after Samsung promised the arrival of Pay in Spain, the UK, and China (the Chinese rollout began in March).

In Spain, Samsung Pay is now available to customers of CaixaBank and ImaginBank. Customers of these banks who own a Galaxy S7/S7 edge, Galaxy S6/S6 edge or Galaxy S6 edge+, can now fire up the Samsung Pay app and download their cards to their phones. The Galaxy A5 2016 will gain compatibility in the coming weeks. Support for cards issued by Abanca and Banco Sabadell will roll out “soon.”

Now for the catch (and potential dealbreaker): in the blog post announcing the Spain launch, Samsung didn’t say one word about the most important feature of Pay: that it works with any conventional (non-NFC) magnetic point of sale (POS).

The omission is no accident. The post specifies several times that the Samsung Pay will only work with NFC-equipped terminals. For example,

“Samsung Pay enables consumers to pay in any location where purchases can be made using a contactless credit or debit card” and “Using the service does not incur an additional cost for users or businesses, as they simply need an NFC-compatible POS terminal.”

Contrast that with the language from the Chinese launch:

“Samsung Pay can be used on both QuickPass POS terminal with NFC and more POS terminals without NFC technology, which is more accepted than other similar applications with only NFC technology.”

In the past, Samsung boasted that Samsung Pay works with old magnetic point of sales, and rightly so. While contactless, NFC-based points of sales are becoming increasingly common, magnetic/chip-reader based terminals remain the norm. That gave Samsung Pay a huge edge over Apple Pay, Android Pay, and other services that depend on NFC to work. This Samsung Pay commercial speaks volumes:

At least in Spain, Samsung Pay lost its edge, and it’s not clear why. The reason may be technical in nature or may pertain to legal requirements specific to Spain or the EU. Or perhaps local partners opposed the inclusion of the feature.

We reached out to Samsung for clarification.

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