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The day I stopped carrying my cards

Digital overdrive is driving the ubiquitous plastic money out of users’ wallets. The change is not only rampant in developed economies but also in fast growing digital economies such as India and China.

Just like every common individual, I too used to carry cards for payments and routine financial transactions. Until recently.

Thanks to increasing digital convenience, it’s been a few months since I stopped carrying my cards along.

Well what have I replaced with? Samsung Pay! Samsung Pay is Samsung’s solution to make digital payments way more seamless than any other competing offering from the likes of Google, Apple etc. What makes Samsung Pay special is that it typically works in any point of sale that has a normal credit card swiping machine, making it virtually compatible across all stores.

The Technology

Traditional tap to pay options rely on NFC and since not all card swiping machines are equipped with NFC, the user at times has to resort to swiping the card. In case of Samsung Pay, Samsung equips its flagship devices with what it calls magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology along with NFC.

Magnetic Secure Transmission or MST, is a method of sending data using magnetic waves. MST mimics a card swipe by wirelessly transmitting magnetic waves from the smartphone to a standard card reader. With MST embedded in the device, every card reader acts as a contactless payment receiver. Several mobile sellers and stores doubtful of flawless functioning of the technology end up surprised as they see my payments go through successfully. Many of them have inevitably advised me otherwise.

Here is how it works–

  • When a payment needs to be made, the phone is held against a card swiping machine.

  • The phone emits a magnetic signal that mimics the magnetic strip found on the back of a credit or debit card and passes the requisite information to the machine.

  • Done! The payment is accepted.

With a vast majority of PoS having magnetic strip enabled card machines, Samsung Pay with its patented technology is by far the best mobile payments alternative available in the market today. Samsung Pay allows users to add up to ten cards. Also Samsung Pay doesn’t need data to be able to operate.

Making a payment is a 3 step process

  • Swipe from the bottom of the screen to open Samsung Pay

  • Choose the card and scan fingerprint or iris to authenticate payment

  • Place phone on the card swiping machine

  • Payment is complete


With all the cards electronically stored on the mobile device, security of the application is of paramount importance. Samsung Pay does not store the account or credit card numbers of cards on the device, and instead makes use of tokenization for transactions. Each time a purchase is made, the smartphone sends two pieces of data to the payment terminal. The first is a 16-digit token that represents the credit or debit card number, while the second piece is a one-time code or cryptogram generated by the phone’s encryption key.

Final thoughts

Samsung Pay is a ground breaking innovation in mobile payments. One of the key challenges in the digital payment space led by platform leaders like Apple and Google is that the merchants need to upgrade their technologies to be able to accept payments, and that is a pretty comprehensive exercise. It will take years before it is adopted by smaller stores, hence limiting its relevance to the end customer. Samsung Pay on the other hand is not bogged down by such limitations.

Samsung pay in action

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 12 November, 2018, 16:27Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It's too late , assista Citi bank in India has introduced its contactless payment with Nokia phone a decade before in India

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 12 November, 2018, 18:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

No, you can't have stopped carrying your cards, just your payment cards. If you're like the average person, your leather wallet probably has a myriad of other cards like several store loyalty cards, driving license(s), health insurance card and alumnus card. How many of these non payment cards can be replaced by Samsung Pay (or Apple Pay or whatever Pay)?

I wrote Mobile Wallets: Fix What's Broken - And It Ain't Payments in 2013. Five years later, plastic is still not broken. As Finextra recently reported, "UK public won’t be ditching payment cards in favour of mobile payments in the near, or even distant, future." While this survey was conducted in UK, its conclusion may well be true of all countries except the ones where plastic payment cards were never a thing in the first place.

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

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