Digital wallets and mobile payments systems have slowly, but steadily started replacing the cash in our wallets. These systems provide us with the convenience of making payments with just a few taps — no matter how small they are. Throw in reward programs for using them, and they instantly become more enticing to use.
But with any such system convenience, security and availability is a big factor. Major tech giants like Apple, Google and Samsung all offer their payment systems, and in this article, we are going to compare them to see which one of these may be the right option for you.
Way of implementation
The wallet and payment systems by these companies are known as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. All of them utilise NFC (Near Field Technology) at their base with several additions being made to improve the overall experience.
In Apple’s case, the addition that has been made is the Apple Card, and for Samsung, it’s the MST technology (Magnetic Secure Transmission). Google Pay, does not do much to differentiate itself but is available to use on all devices, including Apple’s.
So, how do these systems work? Well, a typical transaction would proceed with you would take your items to the billing counter and then when asked to pay you would point your device at the point-of-sale machine. This action allows the NFC chip in your phone to communicate with the retailer’s machine and bring up your payment service’s UI, now complete the set security measures (this step may occur before or after pointing your device at the terminal), and you are good to go.
Apple’s physical card — a credit card available only in the United States currently — makes the process of using Apple Pay similar to what we have been using until now, with the addition of the service’s benefits.
Samsung’s service is also similar to this, in the way, as it allows your device to replicate the magnetic stripe on the stored card, allowing you to swipe your phone against a machine like you would swipe your card. This is useful, especially in the case that the POS device is not compatible with NFC payments.
If you are ever in a situation where you have to insert the card, Apple is the clear winner.
Note: Google and Samsung have separate versions of their payment systems for India; they are known as Google Pay (formerly Tez) and Samsung Pay Mini. The former uses only the UPI interface whereas the latter uses UPI alongside the ability to add other mobile wallets like Paytm and Phonepe.
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Out of the three services being discussed here, Apple Pay is the most supported service as it is available for use in 58 countries, Google Pay follows with 31 countries and Samsung has 26 in its list.
In 2019, Samsung added only Indonesia to its list of countries, but it plans to expand its services in the coming year.
While Google Pay works on any device, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay need specific devices from their own stable; though the features of Google Pay may be limited depending on the device you are using.
All of these platforms have versions of their service that will work with their respective smartwatches as well. Note: Google Pay for iPhone does not allow you to pay at stores (for the UPI version, you can use it at stores as long as the retailer supports it).
Reward systems seem to be a big part of these mobile payment systems; these are mainly present to bring in more consumers.
- Google’s payment platform for international users offers no form of rewards for using the service, Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, do offer them.
- Apple awards users in the form of Daily Cash, which is a certain amount of cashback that they received on the transactions that they make using either Apple Pay or the Apple Card — Apple Pay offers 2% on every transaction. In contrast, the Apple Card offers 3% at select retailers and 1% at all others.
- Samsung uses the more traditional way of offering points rather than straight-up cash, and these points can then be redeemed for a voucher from within the Samsung Pay application.
Note: Google Pay in India does offer cash rewards to users for using the payment platform.
Which one should you pick?
The crowded digital payments market has a fine line that differentiates all the competitors, which I believe is defined by convenience and the overall software experience.
Apple Pay may seem to be the cream of the crop, but for using the service, you need to be tied into the Apple ecosystem. Also, the Apple Card is still not available in countries other than the US, but the wide acceptance of Apple Pay does add a ton of value to the choice. So, if you have an iPhone, Apple Pay should be a clear choice.
The most all-around service among the three has to be Samsung Pay, because although it can only be used on a handful of devices, the option to have the ability to swipe your card without having it on you, beats any alternative out there.
Google Pay is an option that would not hurt to have on your phone because of the plain reason that it kind of works across all platforms.
So the bottom line is that all the three services function in a reasonably similar fashion and the ecosystem you’re locked into dictates your choice, for the most part.