Samsung targets Apple with digital wallet

Challenging apple

Samsung is launching a digital wallet service where owners of devices such as its Galaxy SIII smartphone can store coupons, membership cards and tickets in a single place as it takes on Apple in the space (according to StrategyEye). The feature is set to go live “in the near future”, with the firm also releasing an API so that developers can integrate their apps with the service  from next month. Dubbed Samsung Wallet and launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the feature will compete directly with Apple’s Passbook app, which performs the same services for the iPhone and iPad, as the firms compete for increasingly sophisticated specifications on their smartphone devices.

Samsung’s launch partners for the wallet include food ordering app Belly, travel and accommodation booking apps such as and Expedia and German airline Lufthansa. The timing of Samsung’s announcement, coming just weeks ahead of its next device launch for the Galaxy S IV, indicates that this will be one of the smartphone’s biggest new features.

It looks as though users will soon also be able to make payments using Samsung’s wallet service, after the company announced a new partnership with Visa for NFC transactions earlier in the conference. Under the deal, new Samsung phones that include NFC technology will incorporate Visa’s payments software, allowing users to tap their phones against a terminal to make a payment. Although it is not yet clear how this can be integrated with Samsung Wallet, the firms are hoping that the move will help boost adoption of mobile payments. The firms say it is likely that more than 100m phones will ship with the technology pre-installed this year.

Although uptake of NFC remains low, payment firms such as Visa believe that certain sectors such as transport and travel where the technology is already prevalent, such as TfL’s Oyster card system, will help lower the barriers to adoption. Visa has partnered with TfL to extend NFC payments from the tube to include buses and taxis in London, as well as trialling the technology extensively with retailers at the Olympic Games during the summer.

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