Samsung Pay beta launches in U.S. as Apple expands mobile payments reach

Samsung Electronics opened up a public beta for its mobile payments service, Samsung Pay, ahead of its wider rollout next month. Meanwhile, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expanding the number of locations that will accept its own mobile payments service, which has a significant head start.

Customers with the latest Galaxy devices are among those eligible for the Samsung Pay beta.

Samsung Pay will be supported on all major U.S. carriers except Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ). AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), Sprint (NYSE: S) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) are backing the service while Verizon has said it is still "evaluating" Samsung Pay, which will formally be launched Sept. 28.

Customers who have a Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5, an active Samsung Account and a qualifying debit or credit card that is either a Bank of America MasterCard and Visa or U.S. Bank Visa card will be able to sign up for the beta. However, it's "accepting a limited number of participants at this time," so signing up for the beta does not mean customers will automatically be accepted. Samsung also plans to roll out the Samsung Pay service in the UK, Spain and China.

Samsung Pay, which the company unveiled in March shortly after it announced it was buying mobile payments startup LoopPay, uses LoopPay's magnetic secure transmission, or MST. Samsung claims users can use the service at 90 percent of retail locations in the U.S.

The Samsung payments system works with both Near Field Communication (NFC) and MST technology to make it device, merchant and card issuer agnostic. Users will be able to authenticate a transaction by using their fingerprint and then swiping the device on a card reader, even if it does not support NFC. Samsung said it will not store card details and will tokenize the card information with each transaction to keep users' personal data secure. In the U.S. Samsung has partnered with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa, major banks including Bank of America, Citibank, Chase, U.S. Bank and key financial partners including First Data, Synchrony Financial and TSYS.

Meanwhile, Apple claims that its Apple Pay service will be accepted at more than 1.5 million U.S. locations by the end of the year. Apple Pay first launched in October 2014. As CNBC notes, meeting that goal got a lot easier now that Apple Pay will work with PayAnywhere, a credit card reader serving 300,000 locations across the country.

Jennifer Bailey, the vice president of Apple Pay, told CNBC that she is not concerned about competition from Samsung Pay or Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android Pay. "I think we have the best customer experience out there," Bailey said. "And I think we have the most secure solution in terms of protecting people's privacy and their credit card information."

For more:
- see this Samsung site
- see this The Verge article 
- see this VentureBeat article 
- see this ZDNet article 
- see this CNBC article 

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