Fintech Battle: Apple Pay vs. Samsung Pay vs. Android Pay. Place your bets!

13 September 2016

The number of people making payments by tapping or waving their phone against an NFC-enabled terminal is steadily growing. To meet user demand and performance requirements, it is expected that digital wallets will be installed on new smartphones by default. But in a head-to-head battle, which mobile payment service is the best? Right now, there are three major systems dominating the market – Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. Let’s compare their options to find out the winner!

Fintech Battle

 Round 1: Supported devices and markets

Available since October, 2014, Apple Pay enables users to pay for goods and services using Apple devices: iPhone (iPhone 6 and later), iPad (iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 3 and later), and Apple Watch. You can add a payment card to the Wallet app via your iTunes account, by taking its photo, or by entering card data manually. Apple Pay supports credit/debit cards issued in USA, UK, Australia, Canada, France, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Switzerland. The company works with over 500 different financial institutions, the full list is available here.

The Samsung Pay app offered in the Google Play Store lets users make payments using the newest models of Samsung devices: Samsung Galaxy S6/S7, Samsung Galaxy Note 5/7, Samsung Galaxy A5/A7/A9, and Samsung Gear S2. You can add a payment card to your account via the “Add a credit card or debit card” option in the menu. Samsung Pay supports payment cards issued in US, Spain, South Korea, China, Australia, Singapore, Puerto Rico and Brazil, but their list of supported banks is not so long.

Developed by Google, Android Pay enables users to make payments with their Android-based phones, tablets or smartwatches like Sony Xperia Z5, Samsung Galaxy S6/S7, LG G5, Nexus 6P, and many others. Contrary to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, the company provides support for older devices as well – if your current phone is running Android KitKat 4.4 or later and has an NFC chip inside, then it is likely to be compatible with Android Pay. To add a payment card, you need take a photo of your plastic or click the “+” sign in the app. The service currently supports payment cards issued in US, UK, Singapore, and Australia. The list of supporting partners is quite limited – just 13 names.

Winner: Apple Pay gets 1 point for a long list of supported financial institutions; Android Pay gets 1 point for the best device compatibility.

Round 2: Effectiveness and usability

All three wireless payments systems – Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay use the same Tap and Pay NFC technology to transmit payment card information, so you can use them on the same NFC-capable payment terminals. However, while it’s quite easy to make a payment by tapping/waving your phone at big name stores like Best Buy, Disney, Lego, Whole Foods or Macy’s, there are still quite a few places in US and Europe that welcome contactless transactions.

In addition to NFC, Samsung Pay also supports the Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology that allows making transactions using payment terminals supporting classic magnetic stripe cards. In this case, you just need to hold your smartphone near the place where cards are swiped to transmit card data using an electromagnetic field. Since regular these card readers are more popular than NFC-enabled terminals, Samsung Pay is currently the most widely accepted wireless payment system.

When it comes to payments within apps, Apple Pay was the first mobile service offering in-app purchases. It supports payments within such popular apps as AirBnB, Uber, Groupon, Instacart, Sephora, Spring, Starbucks, the Apple Store, Target, Panera Bread,, and others. Android Pay can also be used for making in-app purchases, but their list of supported apps is shorter. However, the company promises to add such giants as Etsy, Expedia, Groupon and Priceline to their app portfolio soon. As for Samsung Pay, this service doesn’t support in-app transactions at all.

Winner: Apple Pay gets 1 point for the longest list of supported partners, while Samsung Pay gets 1 point for using both MST and NFC technologies.

Round 3: Security

Security is one of the most important elements of all financial transactions, so digital wallets definitely need to provide a high level of data protection to attract and retain users. To prevent fraudulent activities, all three services reviewed in this study use the “tokenization” method that allows replacing your card number and other sensitive information with a special token, or a randomly generated number. Plus, you don’t need to show your payment card to a cashier.

Another security feature that makes Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay safer than traditional card-based payment solutions is an innovative method of authentication based on biometrics – fingerprint recognition (where available). If you are using Android Pay installed on a previous-generation device without the fingerprint ID feature, then you can validate your payments with a passcode.

Winner: All three payment systems receive 1 point for keeping sensitive information safe and sound.

And the winner is…


Well, we could calculate the points and say that today the winner is Apple Pay, but in fact the winner is the whole mobile payments industry. Due to tough competition, the financial services sector is rapidly evolving to meet the changing demands and adapt customer experience strategies. Mobile payments have never been more affordable and convenient! And while we will still use our wallets and physical cards, people are getting more and more used to contactless payments.

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