IT Strategy

Mobile Wallets: Apple Pay vs Android Pay vs Samsung Pay

If you have been paying attention to what’s been trending in the mobile commerce scene these days, you would already be aware about the mobile wallets buzz. It all started with the Google Wallet, now we have Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and the new Android Pay.

All three mobile wallet apps are offered by tech giants and although they all sound pretty much the same, they are quite significantly different if we take a closer look. For example, both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay were built for a similar purpose and can be used at various locations like stores. Their main goal is to allow you to buy things from various vendors using your phone as an alternative to credit cards and cash. Let's see how they compare and contrast.

Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are only possible because of the latest advances in technology. Both payment options are only available on the companies’ latest mobile phones, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.

Apple Pay uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology and is currently supported by more than 200,000 retailers. However, not all retailers currently support NFC within their own sales system.

Samsung Pay on the other hand will work with NFC technology, but they are also able to use standard magnetic credit card readers. This is a result of Samsung’s purchase of LoopPay. As most retailers are enabled to read magnetic stripes, more retailers will be able accept Samsung Pay than Apple Pay (30 million retailers around the world currently have the capability to work with Samsung Pay).

Apart from that significant difference, both Samsung Pay and Apple Pay are pretty much alike. Both depend on customers using their fingerprint to authenticate purchases and neither company will have access to any data with regard to your purchases and how much you spent.

Android Pay

Android Pay is totally different as it’s a platform, not something that can be used to make payments at a retail store. That option has already been available for close to four years with the Google Wallet app (powered by NFC technology).

Android Pay is not a product like Google Wallet, but an API Android layer that’s able to power in-store and in-app mobile payments for any Android app. Google Wallet on the other hand is powered by Android Pay making it suitable for Samsung Pay and Android Pay to align their collective efforts.

Google is pushing Android Pay heavily as it wants it to become an efficient and easy method of payment for a billion Android phone users on the planet. It also has great potential as a result of emerging markets in both Africa and Asia where Android devices are quite popular.

Although the Google Wallet has been around for a while, its popularity didn’t quite take off. However, this is expected to change with acquisition of Softcard. Further, PayPal is also expected to enter the mobile payments market after their recent acquisition of the startup, Paydiant. Paydiant already powers the mobile wallet, CurrentC which was born out of a consortium of massive retailers. As a result, now PayPal has bought into a large market where it can be used in stores like 7-Eleven, Target, and WalMart.

Overall Pros & Cons at a Glance

Apple Pay transactions will be tokenized and will generate a unique Device Account Number with each vendor assigned a unique token service number. Each transaction will be assigned a dynamic security code, but the companies will not store this information.

Apple Pay requires NFC terminals and currently they only make up 10% of all payment terminals at the point of sale. Adding NFC capability will cost the retailer an extra $500 and this creates natural hurdles to making Apple Pay a success.

Another significant issue faced by Apple Pay is the fact that a lot of fraud has taken place via credit cards and Apple Pay. As a result of lax banking operations, credit card details have been stolen. As Apple Pay does not require a secondary ID, it opened doors for criminals to take maximum advantage of the hole in the system. All the negative publicity stemming from this incident is sure to discourage people from adopting the Apple Pay option.

CurrentC has also monopolized major retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy, so don’t expect Apple Pay to be accepted at these locations.

Sumsung Pay is compatible with standard magnetic stripe terminal and as a result Samsung Pay will have a much wider reach than its competitors. The product also uses secure tokenized NFC transactions and magnetic stripes in encrypted format (PCI-DSS).

However, according to industry reports, the magnetic stripe isn’t very user friendly. Apparently the Galaxy S6 will need to be positioned above the stripe reader in a peculiar manner to be read.

Android Pay can operate on any Android device and this gives it a huge advantage over its competition. It doesn’t require the latest smartphone in the market to work and the payment platform is already supported by major retailers. But as Google Wallet is still around, it will be interesting to see if Google integrates both products. Right now, it’s a bit confusing as the company has two mobile payment solutions in the market.

Have you tested these mobile wallets yet? What has your experience been with these products?

Vik is our Brand Journalist and Head of Online Marketing / PR with 11+ years of international experience in IT B2B. He's also a guest blog contributor to Business2community, SitePoint, Journal of mHealth, Wearable Valley and other IT portals.