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Samsung Pay hits the UK

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Good news Samsung phone owners – you can now use Samsung Pay in the UK. Oh, okay, not all of you, but owners of the S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, S6 and S6 Edge. Okay, fine, yes, not all of you either – only owners of those handsets with accounts at Santander, Nationwide or MBNA. And yes, yes, you could have been using Android Pay for a year… look, are you excited or not?

Samsung’s vice president of IT & mobile for the UK and Ireland certainly is. “We are thrilled to be introducing another innovative service to our latest flagship devices, reinforcing our commitment to making people’s lives easier,” he is quoted as cheerfully saying in a press release. “We hope the UK launch of Samsung Pay will transform the way our customers pay for day-to-day items, giving consumers a safer, smarter mobile wallet.”

So, what is Samsung Pay again? In short, it lets you make contactless payments on your (supported) phone. You link your credit and debit cards to your phone, and can then make payments with a swipe and a press. Samsung Pay lets you authenticate with a fingerprint, PIN or an iris scan.

It’s largely the same system as has been out in the US for some time with a couple of key differences. First, you won’t be able to use the Magnetic Secure Transmission feature, which is designed for terminals in the US without NFC support. Apparently NFC was sufficiently widespread in the UK for support to not be required at launch.

Additionally, a deal with Transport for London has offered some additional Tube and London bus integration. A credit or debit card can be marked as the “travel card”, meaning the phone automatically knows which card to use when touched on TfL’s payment points.

Although just the three banks are supported for now, Samsung has said that HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank and American Express will be added soon. Additionally, Samsung has said that more of its handsets will gain access with time. All the same, with Android Pay widely available, and supporting a lot more banks, it will be interesting to see how Samsung hopes to draw customers from one system to the other – it’s just not the kind of thing most people think about once it’s all set up and working.

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