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There are many mobile payment services in existence at the moment, and the differences between them can get confusing and murky. They can be an intimidating thing to look into, but mobile payments are growing every year, and they are clearly our future.

Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay all have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at exactly how each of them works and who can use them.

What Is Android Pay?

Announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) recently, Android Pay is essentially a framework for other apps to build on top of. It’s different than both Samsung Pay and Apple Pay in this sense. While those are both full-blown apps and services, Android Pay is much like a background layer for other companies to build payment systems on.

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“We are doing it in a way so that anybody else can build a payments service on top of Android… In places like China and Africa, we hope that people will use Android Pay to build innovative services.”

Google Executive Sundar Pichai

This way, Google hopes that they can spur creative third parties to build high quality mobile payment apps. It’s a very Google-esque approach, since it’s basically what they do with Android — build the software and allow others to build the hardware — except in this case, they’re building the background layer and allowing others to build the apps.

The positive side for developers is that they don’t have to develop an entire infrastructure to support mobile payments; they can just use Android Pay. On the flip side, consumers win out because they are more likely to trust Google with their data than some random startup.

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Additionally, Android Pay is said to support fingerprint scanners, Near Field Communication (What is NFC? What Is NFC & Should You Buy a Phone That Has It? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is NFC & Should You Buy a Phone That Has It? [MakeUseOf Explains] If you’re in the market for a new phone in 2013, you’re probably going to hear about something called NFC, and how it’s apparently changing the world. Don’t be fooled by the sales talk though.... Read More ), and purchases made both at physical stores and online.

When Will It Launch?

Google didn’t reveal a launch date during MWC, but it’s probably safe to bet that it’s still a few months out. Our best guess would be an official announcement at Google I/O in May.

What about Google Wallet?

You may have heard of Google Wallet Leaving Cash Behind: Using a Digital Wallet For a Week Leaving Cash Behind: Using a Digital Wallet For a Week It’s been just under two years since Google came out with Google Wallet, a revolutionary way to use your Android smartphone or tablet’s NFC capabilities to pay for stuff that you regularly buy. Since the... Read More before, and don’t worry, it continues to live. Think of Google Wallet as one of the apps that can take advantage of Android Pay. Ideally, we’ll be seeing more apps like Google Wallet cropping up after Android Pay officially launches.

Google Wallet has been alive since 2011, but has seen limited adoption. Some carriers blocked it, due to it competing with their unfortunately-named Isis Wallet service (which was later renamed to Softcard Zuckerberg Wants Free Internet For All, XP Upgrades Halt PC Decline, And More... [Tech News Digest] Zuckerberg Wants Free Internet For All, XP Upgrades Halt PC Decline, And More... [Tech News Digest] New Zealand ISP gives its customers what they want, Isis discovers power of branding, GameStop sets out to ruin video games, potato salad is funded through Kickstarter, and we watch a 72-minute-long trailer. Read More ), and it wasn’t used much due to American retailers being slow to adopt NFC-compatible card readers.

Still, American retailers are being forced to upgrade to chip-and-pin systems by 2016, and since these newer systems often incorporate NFC readers, it’s likely that mobile payment systems like Google Wallet should get a nice boost from this upgrade.

What Devices Will Android Pay Be Compatible With?

Ideally, any Android device that supports NFC. Since Google Wallet has been around for a while, a large number of Android devices already have NFC. Though if you really want to be secure, you’ll need a newer phone with a fingerprint scanner.

What Is Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is a proprietary, Samsung-only payment service that is independent of Android Pay or Google Wallet. It’s differentiating feature is the fact that it can be used anywhere a card swiper is available — not just at NFC readers. That makes it suddenly available at a much larger number of stores than Apple Pay, which relies on NFC.

The way it does this is by a fancy technology built into the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which were just recently announced Samsung Reveals Edgier Galaxy S6, Lenovo Cuts the Crapware [Tech News Digest] Samsung Reveals Edgier Galaxy S6, Lenovo Cuts the Crapware [Tech News Digest] Samsung gets edgy, Lenovo dumps the crap, HTC Revives Valve, Ikea furniture charges devices, Google saves Blogger porn, and the real-life Batman suit. Read More , that allows the phones to emit an electromagnetic signal similar to the one the magnetic strip on your card produces. This is called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST). Samsung got this cool technology from their recent acquisition of LoopPay Lenovo Installs Adware on PCs, Apple & Motorola Exchange Words [Tech News Digest] Lenovo Installs Adware on PCs, Apple & Motorola Exchange Words [Tech News Digest] Lenovo catches Superfish, Apple and Motorola argue, Samsung buys LoopPay, Reddit gives money away, saving video games for posterity, and random places to stick a GoPro. Read More , and it does a great job of getting their payment system to stand out.

While NFC does have some great uses NFC! What Is It Good For? Here Are 5 Uses NFC! What Is It Good For? Here Are 5 Uses If your phone doesn’t already have a Near-Field Communication chip in it, your next one probably will. High-end Android handsets are quickly adopting the tech and while Apple has so far shrugged it off, adoption... Read More , it can also be susceptible to drive-by hacking How Does A Drive-By NFC Hack Work? How Does A Drive-By NFC Hack Work? Read More , so having an alternative to that is surely a welcome addition to the market.

Aside from that, it is a regular mobile payments app. It stores your credit card information, and when you want to make a payment, you press your finger against the fingerprint scanner and then press the phone against the NFC reader or magnetic strip reader.

What Devices Is It Compatible With?

Right now, only the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which will both launch on April 10th. This is because of the integrated MST hardware, and they haven’t announced any plans to make an NFC-only version that’s compatible with older Galaxy devices.

What Is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is the most used and tested on this list, since it is the only one actually currently available. People have been using the app since it launched with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Apple's Big Event: iPhone 6, Watch & New Wireless Payment System Apple's Big Event: iPhone 6, Watch & New Wireless Payment System Finally, the rumours are confirmed: two new larger iPhones and a smart timepiece known simply as the Apple Watch are on the way. Read More back in September, though our test found that it doesn’t dramatically simplify the payment process How To Use Apple Pay To Buy Things With Your iPhone How To Use Apple Pay To Buy Things With Your iPhone Your iPhone may some day be the only device you need to purchase products and services, but first you need to start using Apple Pay. Read More as many had hoped it would.

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In fact, it suffered a major blow back in September when some retailers disabled NFC on their card readers Apple Pay Suffers Major Blow, Facebook Accused Of Plagiarism [Tech News Digest] Apple Pay Suffers Major Blow, Facebook Accused Of Plagiarism [Tech News Digest] Also, Twitpic lives on, PS4 owners share games, the brutal truth for $10, and a meta Google Glass review. Read More as they prepared an alternative payment system called CurrentC. Due to this, it suffers from the same problem as Android Pay/Google Wallet: a limited number of NFC-compatible card readers.

Though, just like with Android Pay/Google Wallet, we could see more NFC readers becoming available in the US as we draw near to 2016 thanks to the federal regulation that all retailers must support chip-and-pin card readers by then, which are very likely to support NFC.

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Apply Pay also benefits from the fingerprint sensor available on the newest iPhones, which is used to authenticate before each purchase — and it can even be used inside select apps.

Generally, Apple has been praised for the security measures taken, which means that nobody during the process sees your card number, and Apple isn’t tracking where you shop.

What Devices Is It Compatible With?

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus currently, since they’re the first Apple devices to support NFC, and the Apple Watch will support it when it launches in the coming months.

Which Is Your Favorite?

Every mobile payment system here is a bit different, and what looks the best to you might not be the best to someone else. Android Pay may take off in the future, but for now, it’s mostly just a concept.

Otherwise, whichever device you’re using is most likely to determine which system you have access too, since only iPhone 6 users can use Apple Pay, Galaxy S6 users can use Samsung Pay, and some Android users can use Google Wallet.

But if your device wasn’t an issue, which mobile payment system would you choose? Who do you think is going to win out in the long term battle for consumers’ virtual wallets? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Credit Card Via Shutterstock

  1. Lakshya Khanna
    June 14, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Samsung pay for sure... being so simple to use and backward compatible! As for security, its kinda similar in case of both sam and apple!

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