Samsung said today at Mobile World C0ngress that it will embed Visa’s payWave mobile payments software on upcoming smartphones and tablets. The first device to support the NFC-based system is reportedly the Galaxy S IV, which will be introduced in three weeks, and the companies say the initiative will address 100 million Samsung gadgets coming to market over the next year.
I’ve been highly skeptical of the market for mobile payments, and uptake has been very slow despite — or perhaps because of — a wide variety of competing solutions. But there are a few reasons why this tie-up might actually move the needle: Samsung this year will likely build on its lead as the world’s top smartphone manufacturer, and its Galaxy brand has emerged as a real threat to Apple’s iconic iPhone. And Visa not only has an enormous network of supporting retailers, consumers already trust the company to power billions of dollars in transactions every year — a claim few others in mobile payments can make. The combination of consumer reach and retail footprint will be a powerful weapon as the war for the mobile wallet ramps up.