Samsung Previews Wallet Mobile Payment Platform: MWC

Samsung's mobile payment application is expected to launch sometime in March and is seen as a rival to Apple's Passbook application.

BARCELONA, Spain—Apple has its Passbook mobile payment system, and now Samsung is taking the wraps off of its own, Google Android-based platform called Wallet, which the company showcased at its Developer Day event at the conference.

Similar to Passbook, Wallet offers time- and location-based push notifications as well as the ability to store event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards and coupons in one central location. The app, which is not enabled with near-field communication (NFC) technology, is currently only in developer preview but the chatter around the convention suggests it will be released to the public in time for the expected launch of the Galaxy IV smartphone in March.

Walgreens, MLB, Expedia,, and Lufthansa, are among the U.S. partners the company said it expects to have on board when the application goes live. In addition, Visa and Samsung announced a global alliance that combines Visa’s expertise in payments with Samsung’s mobile device technology.

According to the agreement, financial institutions that are planning to launch mobile payment programs will be able to use the Visa Mobile Provisioning Service to securely download payment account information to NFC-enabled Samsung devices. Samsung has also agreed to load the Visa payWave applet onto its mobile devices featuring NFC technology. Visa payWave is the company’s own mobile payment applet that enables consumers to make “wave and pay” contactless payments using mobile devices.

“Samsung has been a pioneer in NFC devices and is again leading the way in enabling NFC-based mobile payments. The partnership with Visa represents a step towards a global mobile payment platform,” Samsung Electronics president and head of media solutions Dr. Won-Pyo Hong, said in a statement. “We believe that we have a strong value proposition for financial institutions that will ultimately allow consumer choice in NFC payments.”

A November 2012 report from ABI Research forecast that a total of 1.95 billion NFC-enabled devices would ship in 2017. Last year was the first time that ABI Research raised forecasts for NFC-enabled handsets, up from 80 million units to 102 million for year-end 2012. The report said the lion’s share of NFC enablement will continue to be focused in the handset market, but other devices, like tablets, PC accessories and gaming consoles will also see NFC technology integrated into them.

Nine out of the top 10 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) now have NFC-enabled handsets commercially available, with most housing an embedded secure element solution, the report noted, adding the increase in potential user base is making investment into NFC applications more justifiable.

Earlier in the year, IT research firm Gartner forecast that mobile transaction volume and values would average 42 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2016, with $617 billion worth of transactions taking place by 2016.