The best things in life are free, but for everything else there's the Samsung Galaxy S4. It's the first phone to have Visa contactless payment technology built into the phone to pay for stuff with a tap on the till -- and in the process cutting out your phone network.
According to Samsung, the S4 is the world's first device to have Visa payWave built into the embedded secure element -- part of the NFC gubbins in the phone -- as opposed to having payment information on your SIM card. Samsung wants to boost contactless phone payments into the mainstream, but doesn't want to divvy up the potential moolah between itself, Visa, and the phone networks.
Contactless payment by near field communication (NFC) is the next big thing just waiting to happen, except it's held back by the number of interested parties looking for their cut. Samsung is especially keen to have us us waving our phones at shops to pay for sundries, handing out a free Samsung Galaxy S3 with payWave to every athlete at the Olympics.
By putting NFC wavy-pay into the phone rather than on the SIM Samsung is attempting to cut your phone network out of the equation. Industry expert Digantum Gurung of CCS Insight describes a "a battle over who can 'own' the customer" that has held back the spread of NFC mobile payments. But cutting out the networks will be "a tricky affair, especially as many of these operators have now launched or are due to launch their own NFC mobile payment services such as ISIS in the US or Weve in the UK."
The payWave kit in the S4 can be used by both mobile networks and banks, starting with HSBC here in the UK, and other banks around the world. Samsung promises payment apps from "multiple brands" will be preloaded into the embedded secure element "in coming months."
Is contactless phone payment the future? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page. For more on the S4, check out our hands-on video from the New York launch.