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Samsung phablet phrenzy brings mobile payments into the age of WIRELESS TAPE

Bigger, edgier S6, new GalaxyNote 5 can talk to swipe card readers

Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ and GalaxyNote 5
Samsung's Galaxy S6 edge+ (left) and GalaxyNote 5 (right)

Samsung has revealed that Samsung Pay will debut in Korea on August 20, reach the USA on on September 28 and eventually appear in the U.K., Spain and China, as well.

The new scheme will not, however, rely on newfangled near-field comms (NFC). Instead it will use both NFC and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), a technology that lets phones talk to readers of the magnetic strip on payment cards.

MST comes from an outfit called LoopPay that Samsung acquired in February 2015. Here's how Samsung says it works:

“MST technology generates changing magnetic fields over a very short period of time. This is accomplished by putting alternating current through an inductive loop, which can then be received by the magnetic read head of the credit card reader. The signal received from the device emulates the same magnetic field change as a mag stripe card when swiped across the same read head. LoopPay works within a 3-inch distance from the read head. The field dissipates rapidly beyond that point, and only exists during a transmission initiated by the user.”

To make a payment, one need only “rest your LoopPay device against the credit card swipe slot where you usually swipe your credit card and press the button. Or, open the LoopPay app, enter your PIN and select the card you wish to pay with and tap the image of the card on the screen.”

Samsung appears to have signed up Bank of America and Chase for Samsung Pay, plus plenty of Korean partners, and pledges to get just about anyone capable of shifting a shekel aboard real soon now.

Will Samsung succeed? LoopPay currently sells magnetic-field generating dongles for mobes. Which is probably why the technology has remained obscure.

The new GalaxyNote 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ may change that, as both can do MST out of the box.

Both devices offer a 5.7 inch screen at 2560x1440, a CPU Samsung describes as “Octa core (2.1GHz Quad + 1.5GHz Quad), 64 bit, 14 nm process”, a rear 16MP camera and a 5MP model facing forward. Android 5.1 drives the machines, which each boast 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage depending on the depth of your pockets.

The Edge+ looks a minor upgrade, although the under-used curved edge screens can now be customised to offer shortcuts to apps and to people. The Note 5 again offers a pen and has been designed to make it easier to hold in one hand, a reasonably big deal in the Asian markets where phablets do best as it means fewer flying elbows on public transport. ®

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