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What is the difference between Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay ?

Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Walmart Pay.. Confused yet? Which one should you use? Payment processing apps aren't related in any way, everyone just seems to be rolling their own solution to try and get a slice of the smartphone payment processing market. Let's list the most popular platforms and their individual features in order to compare them:

Android Pay - NFC, in-app purchases
Works with Android phones with NFC and HCE support running KitKat (4.4) or higher
A digital wallet platform developed by Google to power in-app and tap-to-pay purchases on mobile devices.

Apple Pay - NFC and in-app purchases
Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, Apple Watch, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 3/4
Apple's variant of a NFC payment platform, works with NFC.

Samsung Pay - NFC, MST (magnetic secure transmission), EMT
Works with Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5
Uses NFC technology to process payments at tap-to-pay terminals. However, the system also works with almost all other magnetic stripe terminals as well, by using "magnetic secure transmission (MST) when the phone is held against one of these registers. The phone emits a magnetic signal that simulates the magnetic strip found on the back of a credit or debit card.
Note: Originally, Samsung Pay was not available on some international variants (Galaxy S7 Edge SM-G935F with Exynos 8890 CPU, for example), however, it is now supported even on international models.

Walmart Pay - QR Code
Part of the Walmart app, it is an alternative to all the NFC-based payment apps, by using a QR code. It is less convenient, because it requires the Walmart app installed, then finding and launching it at the checkout line, then scanning a barcode on a terminal with the device's camera.

All of the above payment methods (except Walmart Pay) use NFC to transmit card information and facilitate funds transfer to a retailer. Once app is setup, payments are simply accomplished by holding/waving your mobile device over a compatible terminal, and only require a fingerprint to authenticate. The one that stands out is Samsung Pay, because of its ability to fall back to using MFC with older terminals, with its' only downside being that it is limited to recent Samsung Galaxy devices.

Are mobile payments secure, what if I lose my phone?
Mobile payment apps do not store the account or credit card numbers of cards on the device, instead using tokenization for transactions. Furthermore, they only work at a short distances (~3 inches), and require some type of authentication (e.g. fingerprint) to initiate a transaction.

Mobile payment apps also work for returns, you usually have to hold the phone against the payment terminal in a similar way as when making a payment to process the return.

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