Samsung kills MST: the US Galaxy S21 won’t support Samsung Pay’s best payment method
The Galaxy S21 series was announced by Samsung earlier today, and many were surprised to see the lack of expandable storage in the official spec sheet. Users will be doubly disappointed to hear that one of Samsung’s best technologies, MST, isn’t available on the Galaxy S21 in the U.S. MST, which stands for Magnetic Secure Transmission, is a contactless payment solution that emulates the magstripe terminals still used by many credit card readers in the U.S. It’s one of the features that made Samsung Pay the best mobile payment service in the U.S.
Although MST support is listed on the Galaxy S21’s spec sheet on some pages, Samsung has confirmed to us that the technology is, in fact, missing on Galaxy S21 series devices sold in the U.S. In fact, MST support won’t be available on any future Galaxy device. ArsTechnica‘s Ron Amadeo was first to break the news on Twitter, and we followed up with Samsung and received the following statement:
Due to the rapid adoption of near field communication (NFC) technology by consumers and businesses, beginning with devices launched in 2021, Samsung Pay will focus its support on NFC transactions, across the Galaxy portfolio. While future devices will no longer include magnetic stripe technology (MST), customers with previous, compatible Galaxy devices will be able to continue using Samsung Pay, including MST.
Samsung Pay is one of the top platforms for payments, and in my opinion, the best to use if you live in the U.S. Many businesses in the U.S. have still not upgraded their payment terminals to support the NFC standard, and even those that have may not accept payments from all mobile payment services. Some intentionally limit which services can be used, while others just haven’t upgraded their equipment.
Until LG Pay entered the market in mid-2019, Samsung Pay was the only service that could mimic the magnetic stripe on a credit card, making contactless payments possible in just about any store in America. Now that Samsung is abandoning MST, you’ll have to keep an eye out for NFC-enabled payment terminals before you decide to open up the Samsung Pay app to make a payment. If you live outside of the U.S., the lack of MST is probably not a big deal since other countries are way ahead when it comes to payment technology. Here in the U.S., though, MST made Samsung Pay incredibly useful.
There are a ton of other changes and new features introduced in the Galaxy S21 series. If you’re interested, check out our extensive round-up covering everything you need to know.
Update: MST is unavailable only in some regions
As it turns out, MST through Samsung Pay is unavailable only in some regions for the Galaxy S21 series. Looking through press release materials for the device launched in India and in Ireland, we can see that the device does indeed come with MST. On the other hand, the Galaxy S21 series launched in the USA and Hong Kong does not come with MST support.
There’s no clear explanation offered on the disparity between MST availability. One can presume that actual MST adoption and use may have something to do with the decision to include it in some regions and exclude it in others. For what it is worth, both the USA and Hong Kong get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 variants, while India and Ireland get the Exynos 2100 variant.