Samsung showed off a new Wallet application during a developer conference at Mobile World Congress that will allow users to store things such as event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards, and coupons in one central location. Currently available as a preview for developers, the new feature is expected to debut alongside the new Galaxy S IV on March 14, and already a number of US partners have jumped on board.
Walgreens, Belly, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Lufthansa were some of the names mentioned at the event, but Samsung says it will provide an SDK and API guides to encourage wider adoption. You can see a brief demo of a Lufthansa boarding pass on Samsung Wallet below.
The app will be connected and location aware. As such, Samsung Wallet will be able to offer push notifications to alert users when they are able to use passes stored in their account at a nearby location, and provide real-time updates whenever things like membership points or boarding pass details change.
Curiously, despite a recent tie-up with Visa for NFC payments, Samsung did not include any tap to pay features in Wallet. The Verge reports that retailers favored barcodes over NFC because they don't have to install any new infrastructure to support it, but the company isn’t ruling out integrating the technology to Wallet in the future. For now passes saved within the app will use bar codes that can be scanned at payment terminals.
If you’ve used or seen Apple’s Passbook app for iOS before then this should all be very familiar, from the interface to the functionality and even the app’s icon. Whether Samsung will be more successful in building a large user base and rich partner network remains to be seen. They’re probably the only other phone vendor with the scale to pull it off, but the growing fragmentation with Isis, Square, PayPal and others could turn users away.