Samsung acquires US mobile payment company LoopPay

Competition stiffens for Apple Pay.

By Dileep Thekkethil

LoopPayBENGALURU: Samsung has acquired US-based mobile payment company LoopPay to put up a strong fight against their arch-rival’s contactless payment system, the Apple Pay.

Rivalry between Apple and Samsung has always been a blessing in disguise for consumers as the companies constantly emerge with cutting edge technologies demanding the other to come up with better solutions.

When Apple announced its breakthrough contactless payment technology in the form of Apple Pay, embedded in iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, Samsung was aware of an imminent threat that could result in losing some of its loyal consumers because of the sheer lack a of payment system like Apple’s. The research team has since been working on developing a payment system that could stand up against Apple Pay.

LoopPay has been developing add-on modules for smartphones capable of transmitting credit card information using mobile applications. The device, when placed near the magnetic tape of the credit card, will extract the information and send it wirelessly to complete the payment.

The technology used by LoopPay, called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), creates a magnetic field of its own and recreates the messages embedded in the magnetic strip of the credit card. This turns the smartphone into a contactless payment device.

This time, Samsung can use MST technology without woes of getting into trouble with Apple as the American tech giant uses a totally different method of transmission based on Near Field Communication (NFC), which requires the merchant to have an NFC enabled device to complete the transaction.

LoopPay says they have an upper hand over the payment system of Apple as the technology developed by the Massachusetts-based tech firm is compatible with 90% of retail transaction counters in the US, which would in turn give Samsung an edge over its rivals in the US.

According to a Samsung Spokesperson, “NFC is currently only available in less than 10 percent of U.S. retailers despite NFC’s mobile launch almost a decade ago” and “MST solves the merchant acceptance issue that has prevented other mobile wallet solutions from reaching mass adoption.”

Even though LoopPay makes the payment option easy for the retailer as he doesn’t have to make any modifications to the existing payment system, the user will have to use an add-ons, which is a small rectangular module that can be attached to the smartphone separately or as a smartphone case. Apple Pay technology comes embedded inside the iPhones and Apple Watch and requires no additional hardware to complete the transaction.

LoopPay already has a host of products: one such is a smartphone case that costs around $59 that can house the credit card, driving license and other ID’s. The aim of the company is to help users go wallet-free and all they have to carry is a smartphone.

Earlier, there were reports that the launch of Samsung’s flagship device Galaxy S6 at World Mobile Conference starting next month, could feature a payment option. As of now, there is no official confirmation about this.

Recently Apple CEO Tim Cook was heard saying that out every $3 contactless transaction done in the US, $2 got paid via Apple Pay.

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