Thursday, February 28, 2013

Samsung's Wallet to rival Apple's Passbook

Samsung has taken a page from both its rival Apple and its partner Google, and released its own Wallet app. The Korean giant unveiled its e-payment system on Wednesday.

Just as Apple's Passbook app, which was released with iOS 6, the Samsung Wallet will allow users to store event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards, and coupons. Also like Passbook, Wallet will allow location and time-based push notifications to alert users when they are at a location where they can use the passes stored in their Wallet account.

Samsung Wallet also provides real-time updates for membership points and boarding pass changes.

Third-party developers will be able to integrate with Wallet, but any app integration must be approved by Samsung (no surprise there, really). Passes saved within the app feature bar codes that can be scanned at payment terminals but, surprisingly there aren't any NFC tap-to-pay features included in Wallet.

This is despite the fact that Samsung's latest devices all seem to carry NFC (such as the Galaxy S III). It's also a surprise since Samsung recently announced a partnership with Visa; future Samsung smartphones will ship with the NFC-powered and Visa-branded payWave service.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress, when asked why it did not include NFC tap-to-pay features in Wallet, the company said that retailers prefer barcodes over NFC because they don't have to install any new infrastructure to support it (which is true). Samsung didn't rule out NFC features in Wallet for the future, however.

Right now, Wallet is available only in a developer preview mode. The SDK and API guides are currently available. Samsung said that it has already arranged partnerships with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Walgreens, Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Belly (the rewards program), and Lufthansa for the app's launch. It plans to bring more partners on once the app is actually available.

It should. Remember HD-DVD? The problem with HD-DVD was insufficient content. If Samsung wants this to fly it needs Wallet's version of content -- partners.

Samsung said Wallet will open to the public in May 2013.



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