There’s been one thing that sets Samsung Pay apart from other digital payment platforms like Google Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. That is the hardware’s ability to tap-to-pay on any payment terminal, even ones that don’t support tap-to-pay. From the S21 series onward, Samsung’s revoking that ability — a massive loss in many countries (like South Africa) where some vendors still use older terminals and pay points.
That’s not the only thing lost in the newly announced devices. You’ll also lose a charger block in the box, as well as earphones.
What is this sorcery, Samsung?
Previous Samsung Galaxy models supported a feature called Magnetic Secure Transmission, or MST, with Samsung Pay. Devices are equipped with hardware that enables them to communicate with the magstrip — the card-swipe functionality of a pay-point terminal and spoof it into thinking a card was swiped.
“The most beneficial thing about it is that MST can work in scenarios where NFC payments aren’t available. It can send that magnetic signal to pretty much any payment terminal with a traditional card swiper,” The Verge explains how it works.
A report by Android Police details that the entire Galaxy S21 range (announced last night) won’t have the MST feature, and that Samsung has no plans to bring it to any future devices. This is because it believes tap-to-pay accessibility is accessible enough across the globe that there isn’t a need for MST any more. This may be true in first-world countries. But certainly not everywhere.
“Due to the rapid adoption of near field communication (NFC) technology by consumers and businesses, beginning with devices launched in 2021, Samsung Pay will focus its support on NFC transactions, across the Galaxy portfolio,” Samsung said in a statement to Android Police.
Most Galaxy devices, up to the recently launched Galaxy S20 FE, still feature MST capabilities in Samsung Pay — so if you’re invested in the feature, we’ll recommend you stick with an older model for now. Or until the cafe on the corner invests in an NFC-capable pay-point.