Samsung Pay’s defining feature not included on some Galaxy S21 phones (Updated)

Update: Samsung phones in several regions outside the US still have MST support. Is the feature restricted to Exynos models?

Samsung Pay Galaxy A70 card identification

  • The just-launched Samsung Galaxy S21 series won’t support magnetic stripe technology (MST) in the US.
  • Instead, Galaxy S21 owners will need to rely exclusively on NFC payments.
  • However, the feature still seems to be available in some regions.

Update: January 15 2021 (6:55 AM ET): Well, it seems like some Galaxy S21 series phones do indeed have MST support. Samsung lists MST capabilities on their South African, Indian, and UK websites. Coincidentally, these above-mentioned regions all have the Exynos 2100 processor rather than the Snapdragon 888 chipset.

We’ve asked Samsung representatives to clarify whether all Exynos variants have MST while all Snapdragon 888 models lack the feature. We’ll update the article if/when they get back to us with an answer. Needless to say, it looks like this feature isn’t completely gone.

Original article: January 14 2021 (4:51 PM ET): One of the defining features of Samsung Pay is its support of magnetic stripe technology, otherwise known as MST. Using MST, a user can conduct a contactless payment with any credit card machine — even if it doesn’t support near-field communication (NFC). This is the biggest difference (and benefit) to using Samsung Pay over a competitor, such as Google Pay.

See also: Google Pay: A beginner’s step-by-step guide

However, Samsung confirmed today that the brand new Samsung Galaxy S21 series will not support MST (via Ron Amadeo on Twitter). This means Galaxy S21 owners will need to rely on NFC support whenever they conduct a contactless payment.

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MST on Samsung Pay is gone, but why?

Samsung sent a statement to Amadeo, which you can see below:

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.

It appears the explanation for this change is simply that NFC is a lot more prevalent now than it was when MST first became available. Therefore, it was likely a simple cost-saving measure that pushed Samsung to remove MST hardware from the Galaxy S21 phones.

This will be upsetting to many Samsung fans, no doubt. While NFC support is certainly easier to find in stores these days, it’s still not everywhere. This could force a small percentage of buyers who love the feature to avoid upgrading their phones.