Samsung has dipped its toe in the water of the mobile payments pool, announcing a new Wallet service that keeps digital versions of coupons, membership cards and tickets in an app on their users’ phones.
The app, very similar to Apple’s Passbook application and other coupon apps, will feature major launch partners, including Walgreens, Major League Baseball, Hotels.com and Lufthansa, the company said in a release Wednesday.
Samsung’s Wallet is only available as a preview to developers right now, the company said, but will eventually be listed in its app store .
Mobile payments have been a big topic at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona this week, and some industry analysts say this may finally be the year that paying by cellphone goes mainstream.
It’s not a new prediction. But this year, analysts are noting that more companies are putting technology such as near-field communications (NFC) chips in their phones — boosting the hardware capabilities — while companies such as MasterCard are offering retailers more way to process mobile payments. With MasterPass, the mobile payments system MasterCard unveiled earlier this week, retailers use one program to process payments using a variety of methods, from NFC chip readers and QR code scans to PayPal-like certified payments.
“Mobile payments are going to start rocking this year,” said Craig Wigginton, who analyzes the U.S. telecom sector for Deloitte. He said that platforms that aren’t tied to a specific type of hardware give retailers flexibility to adopt whatever type of mobile payment system works best for them, rather than running the risk of installing hardware — such as NFC readers — that consumers may not adopt.
Wigginton said he’s also seen a greater focus on data security and privacy at this year’s conference, a crucial issue as manufacturers collect more data — and more sensitive data — from their customers.