Samsung may offer a debit card this summer, as Samsung Pay turns five – CNET


Samsung launched its mobile payments service five years ago. 

Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Pay is five years old, and it’s getting a grownup gift for its birthday: a debit card.

Samsung is aiming to introduce a debit card this summer that’s backed by a cash management account. It’s planning to partner with online personal finance company SoFi for the new card. 

“In 2020, Samsung Pay is evolving from being a rewarding way to shop and pay, to also being a rewarding way to manage your money,” Sang Ahn, general manager of Samsung’s North American Samsung Pay business, said in a draft blog post sent to CNET. “Over the past year we have been busy developing a mobile-first money management platform.”

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A debit card would mark the latest evolution of Samsung Pay. It would join Apple’s credit card — called Apple Card — and a rumored debit card from Google. The companies have all been looking for ways to expand beyond letting people pay for items with their mobile devices. Offering a credit or debit card is a way to build customer loyalty amid fierce competition for smartphone customers. It also comes at a time people are closely watching their budgets in light of the global novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Samsung launched its mobile payments service for its smartphones and wearables in 2015. The idea was for users to pay for items by waving their Galaxy device near a store’s checkout register instead of swiping a credit card. It was much like Apple Pay, which went live a year earlier, but it didn’t require special point-of-sale terminals that had tap-to-pay NFC technology. Instead, Samsung Pay worked with NFC, magnetic stripe and EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) terminals for chip-based cards.

Since that time, Samsung Pay has given users the ability to add loyalty cards, receive cash back for making certain purchases and take advantage of promotions. That includes bonus Samsung account points and vouchers with a number of participating retailers. Chase Pay users can also link their existing digital wallet with Samsung Pay and people can use Samsung Pay to pay for mass transit. 

“We created Samsung Pay because we believe the most powerful tool for managing your finances is the device that’s always at your fingertips,” Samsung’s Ahn said in the draft blog post. “Over the past five years, we’ve collaborated with leading innovators to bring new experiences to life that make it easier to take care of the things that matter most.”

Apple introduced its Apple Card last year and started letting people sign up for its physical credit card in August. It is designed for iPhone users, has no fees, offers daily cash-back rewards and works with Apple Pay. It also exists as a physical titanium credit card. It’s part of Apple’s effort to expand beyond being the “iPhone company” and into making recurring money from services. 

And Google is believed to be developing physical and digital debit cards, which would be tied to an app for payments, managing purchases and checking balances. The goal is to make the card the foundation of the search giant’s Google Pay mobile payments service.

CNET’s Lexy Savvides and Rich Nieva contributed to this report.