Smart strategy: Samsung Pay expanding to more phones, online retailers in 2016

Samsung's clever acquisition strategy with LoopPay is paying off as it makes Samsung Pay widely supported. Bringing the technology to lower-priced handsets is the next step.

The most widely accepted digital wallet in the U.S. Is expanding:Samsung plans to offer online transactions with Samsung Pay and bring its payment service to more handsets in the coming year.

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Reuters reported on Samsung's plans after speaking with Thomas Ko, Samsung's global co-manager of Samsung Pay.

Ko says the company expects to bring Samsung Pay support to lower priced handsets in 2016. That's key to continue Samsung Pay growing as the digital wallet is currently limited to expensive flagship devices such as the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

What makes Samsung Pay easily accepted at more places? The company's acquisition of LoopPay this past February.

Unlike the requirement of an NFC, or near-field communications, chip used by Android Pay and Apple Pay, LoopPay wirelessly sends credit or debit card information magnetically as if a customer's card was swiped at a payment terminal. That means merchants aren't required to install additional or specialized hardware to accept payments from a phone.

Of course, Samsung Pay also does work with NFC terminals but currently only on four handsets. Expanding the technologies to lower priced phones will bring mobile payments to a larger swath of the population.

The addition of online retailer support will do the same, similar to both digital payment services offered by Apple and Google, but also from PayPal. That assumes online retailers will tap into Samsung Pay as a payment option, but it's a safe bet many will at least consider it because it would provide another option to complete sales quicker.

There's still an open question, however.

The U.S. Has finally caught up to other countries by moving to a "chip and PIN" system for credit cards this past October.

LoopPay's current technology built into Samsung Pay doesn't yet support chip and PIN transactions. On its FAQ webpage, last updated on January 29, LoopPay says it is "developing a solution" to support such payments but has no details on how it will do so or when.

Regardless, Samsung has made surprising headway in the digital payment space with Samsung Pay already. Bringing it to more Samsung handset owners and online retailers should keep the company ahead in some regions - particularly the U.S. - in the near term.