Samsung reportedly mulling LoopPay deal for a wireless wallet

Samsung is in talks with mobile payments startup LoopPay about potentially incorporating the latter’s wireless credit card technology into its smartphones, according to a report from Re/Code. The two have already made a prototype of such a Samsung wallet that would challenge Apple Pay, Re/Code’s unnamed sources state, but a deal is still far from final.

LoopPay makes a fob and various smartphone cases that create an electromagnetic field which emulates the magnetic “swipe” of a standard credit card transaction. By storing various credit, debit or loyalty card numbers, LoopPay’s gadgets can work as a contactless payment system on nearly all point-of-sale terminals currently used in the U.S.

Still, partnering with LoopPay would be a puzzling move for Samsung, given the retail market is in the middle of a big transition.

Next year, U.S. retailers are joining a large part of the world in moving to a more secure transaction technology called EMV, which reads data from a chip rather than from a card’s magnetic stripe. LoopPay’s current technology won’t support those transactions. While mag-stripe purchases would still remain an option in many places, Samsung would be in the odd position of investing in a dying payments technology.

 

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Today in Mobile

The carrier-led mobile payment initiative Isis scored a big win today, announcing new deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express alongside its existing partnership with Discover. The newfound collaboration contrasts markedly with Isis’s initial strategy, which was to deploy a platform that would compete with existing credit and debit programs and force most consumers to create entirely new accounts. I think most consumers would have balked at that requirement, but tying a mobile component into existing accounts should help boost uptake considerably.

Today in Mobile

Google unveiled its long-awaited mobile payment system during a press conference in New York today, and the company has forged an impressive alliance: Citibank, MasterCard, Sprint and First Data are among the initial partners, and Google Wallet will be supported by more than 300,000 retail outlets and restaurants at launch. Google is enticing consumers by offering $10 in a new account, and the company is clearly hoping that the system’s discount offers will be enough to convince them to continue using the system. But the mobile payment space still has some substantial hurdles to overcome — from a lack of NFC-enabled handsets to changing the way consumers think — so this space will evolve much more slowly than some of the headlines would have you believe.

Today in Mobile

The carrier Orange UK is making headlines this morning with a new service that will allow subscribers to use their phones to pay for goods and services at 50,000 retail locations. I’m pretty skeptical of most mobile wallet initiatives, but as my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out, this one is pretty compelling. Each participant will get roughly $16 on their account to get them started, and all purchases in the first three months will accrue a 10 percent cash-back reward. The system will need to find new ways to get consumers to continue using the service, but at least this system gives them a reason to start.

Today in Mobile

Forbes last night ran something of a status update on Isis, the carrier-driven effort to push mobile payments. Although it launched six months ago with the goal of creating a stand-alone network for mobile payments, the initiative has wisely shifted its aim toward becoming a kind of conduit that bridges mobile transactions with traditional payment options like credit and debit card accounts. And Isis has opened its effort to invite Apple, Google and others in an effort to gain traction. It’s clear that Isis will need participation from those other players to gain traction; what’s less clear is why those other players need any business model that includes the carriers.

Today in Mobile

The Wall Street Journal reported today that AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA are pulling back the reins on an NFC-based payment system and instead is pursuing partnerships with Visa and MasterCard. It’s a wise move because building out an infrastructure for a stand-alone mobile payment system is a costly endeavor. More importantly, though, it indicates the carriers understand that there’s little incentive for consumers to create an entirely new account for purchases rather than use the credit and debit card accounts they already have. The mobile wallet still has some big obstacles to overcome, but tying it to existing accounts is a step in the right direction.

Today in Mobile

Nokia said today that its NFC-enabled C7 will enable users to unlock additional levels of Angry Birds by tapping their handsets together. And as El Reg noted, other levels can be unlocked by tapping the phone against hidden tags in various locations, creating a kind of scavenger hunt for gamers. NFC gets a ton of hype for its ability to support transactions, of course, and that space could eventually be fairly lucrative. But that’s a long way off, and until the mobile wallet gets legs we’re going to see a lot more NFC-based mobile marketing efforts like Nokia’s.