Apple users will not be the only ones to whip out their phones and tap to pay for goods and services. From next Thursday, Samsung phone users, too, will be able to do the same, and at more retail outlets - including those that have yet to install a contactless reader.
This comes with the launch of the Samsung Pay digital wallets, which works in a way similar to Apple Pay.
Once it is launched, it will allow users to save into their phones Visa and MasterCard credit or debit cards issued by five major banks here - POSB, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank.
"Singapore is a financial centre with one of the highest adoptions of smartphones and credit cards in the world," said Mr Thomas Ko, vice- president and global general manager of Samsung Pay, explaining why Singapore will be its fifth launch market in the world. The digital wallet service was first rolled out in South Korea last August, followed by the United States, China and Spain.
As of February this year, Samsung Pay has over five million registered users and recorded more than US$500 million (S$677 million) worth of transactions globally.
Like Apple Pay, users add their card details to a digital wallet stored on select models, including the latest Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.
Also, like the ez-link stored-value card and Visa payWave credit and debit cards, Samsung Pay uses the wireless Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to transmit data between the mobile device and a contactless payment reader.
Contactless NFC payment is accepted at 30,000 retail points here, including FairPrice and Cold Storage supermarkets, as well as Guardian, Starbucks and Uniqlo outlets.
However, Samsung Pay also uses a proprietary Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology that works with traditional magnetic-stripe card terminals, which are more commonplace than NFC readers. This allows Samsung Pay users to tap at almost every retailer in Singapore and not just those that have installed NFC readers.
Payment at these terminals is not subject to a cap on transaction value, unlike the $100 cap at NFC payment terminals. Users place their fingers on the phone's fingerprint sensor to authenticate a transaction.
Already, close to 40 per cent of all Visa credit and debit card transactions in Singapore at brick-and- mortar stores are contactless, according to Visa.
"We are confident Samsung Pay will provide more convenience and drive even greater adoption, bringing Singapore a step closer to becoming a cashless nation," said Miss Ooi Huey Tyng, Visa's country manager for Singapore and Brunei.
Only the latest models of Samsung phones support the payment service. Standard Chartered Bank Singapore's head of retail products and digital Dwaipayan Sadhu said this is not an issue as consumers here upgrade their phones to the latest models frequently.
Said marketing director Ian Tan, 39, who recently upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: "I would try Samsung Pay and see if it speeds up the transaction process."
Rival platform Apple Pay, which signed up five major banks here late last month, has already seen 47,000 DBS cards and 40,000 OCBC Bank cards registered for the service.