Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Samsung announced Thursday that its new mobile payment system, Samsung Pay, will be available in Korea on August 20 and in the US on September 28. This system aims to make it easier for users to pay for goods and services in brick-and-mortar shops.
"We set out to develop a solution that's simple, safe and open to all businesses large and small, not to mention fun to use," said head of Samsung Pay Injong Rhee at the company's Galaxy Unpacked event in New York City.
The South Korean smartphone maker first unveiled Samsung Pay in March. The idea is for users to pay for items by waving their smartphone near a store's checkout register instead of swiping a credit card. That announcement came alongside the unveiling of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, which will be the first to use the feature. On Thursday, Samsung announced its latest mobile devices: the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.
"With the launches of these exciting new smartphones, we will open a new era of mobile payment," Samsung's mobile business CEO, JK Shin, said Thursday. "This is Samsung's brave step forward to enhance our mobile experience. It is easy, safe, and most importantly, available virtually anywhere you can swipe a card."
Watch this: Samsung touts new mobile pay service with US rollout date
Samsung is just the latest major technology player to jump into mobile payments, which has languished for years with trials and limited deployments before Apple injected energy and raised the consumer awareness with its Apple Pay feature, found on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. For the likes of Apple and Samsung, the hope is that the addition of yet another feature will further build customer loyalty at a time when competition for smartphone customers is fierce.
Samsung believes it has an advantage with its system, which it obtained through the purchase of LoopPay earlier this year, because it will allow its devices like the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge to work with many more merchants and stores. Samsung Pay will use a near-field communication, or NFC, chip to talk with compatible registers. But it also uses a LoopPay technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission that works by holding the phone near a traditional card swipe reader, essentially making it backward compatible for nearly all payment terminals.
By comparison, Apple Pay also employs a NFC chip into its smartphone. The dilemma is that there are still few registers that have the technology, which limits adoption and usage.
Samsung also announced on Thursday a bevvy of new partnerships for Samsung Pay, including major credits cards, banks and store-branded credit cards. Such partnerships include American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, Chase and US Bank.
"Instantly on day one, because of [magnetic secure transmission] technology, Samsung Pay will be accepted almost anywhere consumers can pay today," Visa's executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships, Jim McCarthy, said in a statement. "We see this as a huge step forward for consumer choice and payment security."
Samsung Pay will come preloaded on select Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 devices. A free software upgrade to enable the payment system on Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge devices will be rolled out starting in mid-August. After Samsung Pay launches in Korea and the US, the smartphone maker plans to then roll the service out in the UK, Spain and China.