Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay: What’s the Difference?

Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay featured image

Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay: What’s the Difference?

5 Must-Know Facts About Mobile Payment Services

  • Both Samsung Pay and Apple Pay rely on tokenization to perform their contactless payments. This process keeps merchants from ever knowing your real card number. Instead, they receive a virtual account number and password that they then use to authorize your payment.
  • Samsung Pay was recently moved inside Samsung Wallet, which adds support for digital keys and cryptocurrency.
  • Apple Pay is the preferred mobile payment service, accounting for more than 45% of all purchases made with a digital wallet.
  • Less than 2% of all in-store purchases are made with mobile payment services.
  • Apple Pay adds another layer of security to its purchases by authenticating them with Touch ID or Face ID.

Mobile payment platforms can really come in handy. Thanks to contactless payments, there’s no longer a need for you to carry around a big wallet full of all your cards. Now, you can conveniently store them all right inside your phone.

Presently, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay are two of the most popular mobile payment platforms around. But, what are the differences between Samsung Pay and Apple Pay?

Let’s break it all down below so you can decide which payment platform is best for your needs.

Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay: Full Comparison

First and foremost, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay have a few key things in common. They both allow users to make mobile payments either in person, through apps, or online. Users can store all of their credit and debit cards in a safe, secure wallet app. Samsung Pay and Apple Pay also let users add a seemingly unlimited number of gift cards and rewards cards in addition to their credit and debit cards. But, that is where the similarities end.

Samsung Pay is limited to Samsung devices while Apple Pay is restricted to Apple devices. Samsung Pay is also compatible with Android-equipped smartwatches, while Apple Pay is compatible with Apple Watches. What’s more, Samsung Pay has not been enabled on any computer operating systems yet, while Apple Pay comes built into all the latest versions of macOS.

Beyond these main differences in compatibility, there’s also the issue of availability. In other words, how many stores even accept these mobile payment platforms to begin with? It depends on which platform you’re using. Apple Pay relies solely on near-field communication (NFC) for its contactless payments, which they claim is accepted by over 85% of retailers. Samsung Pay, on the other hand, relies on both NFC and magnetic secure transmission (MST). This gives Samsung an advantage, as MST can work even if the payment terminal doesn’t support NFCs.

Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay: A Side-by-Side Comparison

infographic for Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay
Samsung PayApple Pay
DeveloperSamsung ElectronicsApple, Inc.
Release DateAugust 20th, 2015October 20th, 2014
Operating SystemAndroid, Wear OSiOS, watchOS, macOS
TechnologyNear-field communications (NFC) and magnetic secure transmission (MST)Near-field communications (NFC)
Additional Fees?NoNo
Maximum Number of Cards108-16 (depending on how many Apple devices you are using)
Number of Users16 million43 million
Google Pay Apple Pay window storefront mobile payment services
Apple Pay accounts for at least 45% of all mobile payment services.

The History of Samsung Pay

Interestingly enough, Samsung Pay was originally developed under a different name: LoopPay. LoopPay was actually a completely separate company that Samsung acquired for around 300 million dollars in early 2015. Samsung quickly reworked the software over the next six months or so and, come August 2015, debuted it under the name Samsung Pay. While Apple Pay had been out for nearly a year at that point, Samsung Pay still managed to stand out for its support of both NFC and MST payments.

MST payments replicate the action of swiping a physical card with a magnet strip. By moving the Samsung Pay-enabled phone or smart watch past the card terminal, MST payments are able to put out the same kind of magnetic waveform a physical card would. LoopPay—later Samsung Pay—developers claim that MST payments can work at more than 90% of all card terminals. However, with so many new terminals requiring a chip to be inserted for card payments, there’s definitely some doubt about that figure.

While support for Samsung Pay is not built into any computer OSes at this time, it can still be used for online shopping. This is thanks to Visa Checkout, which is a PayPal-esque service that works with nearly 350,000 different online sites. However, speaking of PayPal, Samsung Pay has not yet debuted a peer-to-peer payment service. This is one of several areas where Apple Pay has an advantage.

With that, let’s take a look at the history of the other key player, Apple Pay.

Apple Pay Paves the Way

While Apple Pay didn’t debut until the end of 2014, the tech giant had been hard at work on it since at least January 2013 or earlier. Apple had the support of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa, with each corporation working to help the tech company perfect mobile payments. Apple also worked with numerous banks such as JPMorgan. Interestingly enough, these card companies and banking institutions kept Apple‘s name out of the work. Of the hundreds who helped create Apple Pay, only a select few were aware it was an Apple project.

Apple Pay was finally announced alongside the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 back in September 2014. As one of the first mobile payment services of its kind, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement was an understandably huge deal. While the rollout was somewhat slow-going, with many merchants both online and in-store reluctant to embrace the technology as quickly or enthusiastically as Apple, it’s now quite common to encounter Apple Pay-enabled merchants while shopping.

All these years since Apple Pay’s debut, the mobile payment service is undoubtedly the most popular of the bunch. With accessibility across Apple’s full range of products—from phones to watches to tablets to laptops—Apple Pay is undoubtedly the most seamlessly integrated, as well. Plus, contrary to Samsung Pay, users can even send and receive payments between other Apple Pay users (like Venmo or Cash App, but exclusive to Apple users).

Samsung Pay and Apple Pay: Pros and Cons

Pros of Samsung PayCons of Samsung PayPros of Apple PayCons of Apple Pay
Allows for MST paymentsLimited exclusively to Samsung devicesApple Pay is extra secure because of its Touch ID and Face ID authenticationPeer-to-peer payments can only take place between Apple users
Supports digital keys and crypto through Samsung WalletUnable to send and receive funds via peer-to-peer paymentsMore compatible thanks to watchOS and macOS supportDoes not permit MST payments, thus limiting the number of payment terminals that can be used
Available for use at online merchants through Visa CheckoutUsed far less than Apple PayNo internet is required to use Apple PayDepending on the OS, can sometimes only allow for up to 8 cards (two fewer than Samsung Pay)
Capable of storing up to 10 credit and debit cards as well as gift cards and even some forms of IDFar fewer banks support Samsung Pay compared to Apple PaySupported by far more financial institutionsHas a somewhat complex process to set up and authorize cards
Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is only available for Samsung phones.

Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay: Which Mobile Payment Service is Best?

So, now that the Samsung Pay vs. Apple Pay debate has been laid out in extensive detail, the question still remains: which one is the best of the best?

As you might have surmised, the answer really depends on what mobile OS you prefer. If you’re a Samsung loyalist, you have no choice but to use either Samsung Pay or Google Pay. If you’re an Apple diehard, then Apple Pay is the only way to go for you.

Of course, in a vacuum, it’s still possible to name a winner between the two. Samsung Pay is more widely available, thanks to both MST and NFC payments. However, Apple Pay is more widely used, thanks to the wide range of supported devices. What’s more, Samsung Pay is compatible with fewer financial institutions, while Apple Pay has the support of nearly all of them. Looking objectively at the two, it seems Apple Pay deserves to take the top spot. However, neither one is necessarily a bad choice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Samsung Pay the same as Samsung Wallet?

Samsung Pay is a part of Samsung Wallet. It’s still its own distinct mobile payment service, but it’s encapsulated inside Samsung’s digital wallet software.

Is Samsung Pay the same as Google Pay?

Google Pay is a separate mobile payment service available on Android devices. Android users can use either Samsung Pay or Google Pay.

Which came first, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay?

Apple Pay predates Samsung Pay by exactly ten months.

Does Apple Pay support MSTs?

As of this writing, Apple Pay does not allow for MSTs (also known as magnetic secure transmissions). Only Samsung Pay can support these.

Which is used more, Samsung Pay or Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is used far more than Samsung Pay. As a matter of fact, Apple Pay accounts for more than 45% of all mobile payment services.

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