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Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatch

June 27th, 2017

I recently received some wearable technology as a gift and spent time testing different platforms and implementations.

Samsung Gear S3

I settled on the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier as my smartwatch of choice.

One feature’s details with which I was unfamiliar when I purchased the watch is the Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST).

For Apple and Android mobile device users who setup and use Apple Pay or Google Wallet, Samsung’s MST uses Samsung Pay but with a twist.

Where Apple Pay and Google Wallet depend on NFC, the Samsung Gear S3 opens a new opportunity for paying.

NFC requires the sales terminal to be NFC-enabled and the vendor must accept that payment system, Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

With Samsung’s MST, the S3 watch can be used like any credit card with a magnetic strip on the back of it.

Samsung Pay

My experience was that I turned on Samsung Pay on the watch, entered my PIN to unlock the app and then held my watch ~1 inch away from the card reader … right beside where I would normally swipe my credit card.  The card reader received a stream of encoded characters as though it had just read my credit card and validated the sales transaction.

In less than 30 seconds (which is how long Samsung Pay is enabled once I enter my PIN), I completed the transaction and the vendor didn’t have to accept Samsung Pay, they hadn’t needed to update or change their credit card equipment and I didn’t have to pull out cash or my wallet.

With standard sales equipment I was able to complete a cardless, cashless transaction by starting a program, entering a secret and holding my arm close to the register.  That is the type of convenience I value.

For security’s sake, Samsung Pay also uses tokenization of the credit card number and the MST field is typically only about 1″ from the smartwatch.  I’m certain there will be compromises for this but it seems to be about as secure as any other convenient payment process I would regularly use.

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