There’s a land grab going on in mobile payments, and LG wants a stake. LG’s approach, however, is different from archrival Samsung’s – while Samsung has integrated mobile payments right into its phones, LG is working on an electronic card in the vein of Coin and Plastc.
According to a report from Korea’s ETNews, LG will announce its “White Card” during MWC, along the hotly anticipated LG G5. White Card will allow users to register their regular plastic cards. The device is about the size of a regular card and just slightly thicker, so it can reportedly be used for withdrawing money from ATMs. Basic controls and an LCD display allow users to cycle between registered cards and lock the device, which charges through a set of metal pins.
At launch, White Card will reportedly work with magnetic stripe card readers, while chip reader support will come at a later stage.
LG has already signed up a number of Korean card companies, who are interested in the idea because they don’t have to cede a lot of control over to LG. Transactions won’t be processed by LG, so card companies don’t have to fret about helping a potential competitor take over their business. By contrast, adoption by card partners has been a real problem for Samsung Pay and Android Pay.
It’s not clear for now how LG plans to implement its Pay service on phones. It’s hard to believe that the company will settle for an electronic card, when everyone else is adopting truly mobile phone payments.
A number of startups have promised to free us from having to carry a wallet-ful of cards. Most notably, Coin launched a crowdfunding campaign for its eponymous electronic card back in 2013, but needed almost two years to deliver devices to its backers. And, when it arrived, many found that Coin wasn’t working nearly as well as promised. Coin has since launched a second version of its card, to better reviews.
The theme of LG’s MWC 2016 event is “Play,” but if this report’s accurate, “Pay” would be very fitting. Before you get too excited though, remember that rolling out financial services is hard. Take Samsung – a year after the launch of its payment service, Pay is still only available in the US and South Korea, with a handful of new markets coming in the next months.