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Samsung Pay launches in Australia, time to ditch your wallet (and your train ticket?)

You might need an American Express or Citibank card for the time being, but Samsung is hoping to make big waves with its mobile payments platform, and not just at the cash register.

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Samsung Pay will work with American Express and Citibank credit cards at launch.

American Express

In the future, you won't need your wallet. In fact, if Samsung has its way, when you leave the house in the future you won't need anything other than your Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

The Korean company launched Samsung Pay in Australia today, partnering with American Express and Citibank to deliver the contactless mobile payment platform. That means that, from today, Australians with an Amex- or Citibank-issued card (though not Amex/Citibank branded cards from other banks) will be able to use their Samsung smartphone to tap and pay at contactless terminals.

Australia is the fifth market to get Samsung Pay after Korea, the US, China and Spain, with Singapore set to launch the technology tomorrow.

Samsung Pay will work on any Galaxy smartphone supporting Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above, with a simple swipe to pay interface which Samsung says makes it as easy as using a card, if not easier.

It's a matter of a couple of simple and, as Samsung says, secure steps:

  • Swipe up from the home screen to open payments
  • Choose desired card
  • Verify fingerprint by holding your finger on the home button
  • Tap smartphone to a contactless terminal
  • Tokenisation ensures card details aren't shared with merchants

Contactless payments certainly aren't new in Australia, with contactless chip cards and NFC-enabled payment terminals already ubiquitous across the country. Samsung isn't first in mobile either. Apple Pay launched alongside American Express last October, bringing ANZ into the fold in April, and a number of Australian banks, such as Commonwealth Bank, offer their own contactless mobile payments.

But Samsung is certainly keen to get in the game, promising merchants and financial institutions that it won't take a "clip" of interchange fees (unlike Apple), and billing Samsung Pay as a way to eventually get more Samsung devices in more shoppers and smartphone users' hands.

That's why the global Vice President of Samsung Pay Elle Kim says the company needs to improve on the experience currently offered with traditional credit and debit cards.

"Everyone is so used to tapping and paying with their cards, we have to do more with their phones," she said.

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In Korea, Samsung Pay can be used on Gear wearables to pay for public transport.

Jessica Dolcourt

With that in mind, Samsung wants its payment platform to work anywhere.

Samsung Pay will let you store your loyalty cards, shop online from your phone without having to switch screens and pay at both NFC and magnetic strip-reading card terminals. It can even work with public transport cards as it does in Korea.

There's no news on Australian public transport partners yet, but Transport for NSW has already opened up to the idea of credit cards being used on public transport in lieu of your Opal card.

And while Samsung is keen to work with banks, it's also staying quiet on potential financial partners for the future.

But Samsung is playing the long game. The hope is that when every bank, payment terminal and train station works with Samsung Pay, there will be nothing stopping Australians from switching to a Galaxy smartphone next time they upgrade.