After a month-long beta program, Samsung Pay, the company's response to Apple Pay, is now available in the United States. The news come less than a month after Google began to roll out Android Pay, which replaces Google Wallet for in-store transactions.
Samsung Pay is probably the most ubiquitous of the three however. That's because, after Samsung acquired LoopPay earlier this year, the company was able to make use of "Magnetic Source Transmission" technology, or MST. Since MST is the same kind of magnetic code that credit card readers are compatible with already, Samsung Pay should work with virtually any self-checkout register, given you're equipped with the proper hardware. This is a huge advantage over the NFC-dependent Apple Pay and Android Pay, which are reliant on protocols that aren't as widely supported by retail chains.
If you're on a Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, or S6 Edge+, you can download and install Samsung Pay starting today. Unfortunately, for users still rocking previous Samsung handsets, Samsung Pay will not be available due to security refinements that were made to this year's slew of devices in preparation for the launch of the payment service.
With all these shiny new phone apps competing to replace your wallet, security is an undoubtedly worrying factor. Luckily, Samsung assures us that its "tokenization" forgoes these concerns. Similar to what Apple's accomplished with its proprietary Secure Element chip, tokenization substitutes a randomly generated code in place of your credit card number to be transmitted at the point of sale terminal.
Although Samsung Pay bears more universally accepted payment tech than its Apple and Google counterparts, its support from banks is limited. In order to use Samsung Pay, a credit or debit card from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express is required, but you can only use the card with Samsung Pay if it's been issued by Bank of America, Citi, American Express, or US Bank, though more banks will likely be added in the future.
Thankfully, almost all of the major cell carriers do support Samsung Pay. Almost. Verizon -- the most widely used wireless ISP in the United States -- does not. Big Red says it's "in the process of evaluating Samsung Pay" for the time being.