A Look at Samsung Pay and Other Mobile Payments

Samsung is hoping its new mobile-payment service will let you leave your wallet at home. It's a claim Samsung Pay's rivals -- Apple Pay and Google's Android Pay -- aren't able to make because they work with fewer merchants. Those rival services require merchants to have newer payment equipment with wireless technology known as near-field communication, or NFC.

Samsung Pay can mimic the old-school, magnetic signals produced by card swipes. That means it should work with most existing equipment.

Nonetheless, most people won't leave their wallets home anytime soon. Plastic credit and debit cards aren't difficult to carry around and hand over, so there isn't an urgency to sign up for any of these services. And while Samsung Pay works with more merchants, acceptance isn't universal because of technical and behavioral constraints.

Samsung Pay will debut in South Korea on Aug. 20. It will start in the U.S. on Sept. 28, with a test period beginning Aug. 25. Samsung plans to expand to the U.K., Spain and China as well. Android Pay will come out later this year in the U.S., while Apple Pay launched in the U.S. last October and expanded to the U.K. last month.

Here's a closer look at Samsung Pay and how it compares with Apple Pay and Android Pay.

What Are the Advantages Over Plastic?

Although taking out plastic isn't difficult, using the phone is more convenient if you already have it out -- say, to check Facebook while waiting in line. It's also great in cabs: When you pull out your wallet late at night, your keys might accidentally slip out.

The bigger advantage is security. With all three services, you're assigned a substitute card number unique to the phone. The store gets this number, so if its system gets hacked, your main card number isn't compromised. To work, the substitute...

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