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Samsung officially unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.
Among the numerous features introduced in the device, there’s one that could lay the groundwork for the next major battle between Samsung and Apple.
Like the iPhone 5S, the Galaxy S5 includes a fingerprint scanner built into the home button on the front of the device.
While this might just look like Samsung copying another feature made popular by Apple, the situation is more interesting when you consider the fact that the real value of Apple’s Touch ID system will be in payments, not simply securing the data on your phone.
As Business Insider’s Jim Edwards explained in a post this weekend, Apple is building boring-sounding but potentially insanely lucrative national shopping infrastructure around iTunes, TouchID, and iBeacons.
In Apple’s vision, you’ll be able to walk into a store and handle the entire payment process directly from your phone. Rather than swiping or manually entering your credit card information, payments will go through your iTunes account — you’ll simply touch your thumb to the scanner on your phone to verify.
As of today, we know that Samsung also wants to get into the potentially huge business of mobile payments. Since Samsung doesn’t have 600 million+ Apple IDs or its own major digital storefront, it’s partnering with PayPal to handle the payment processing side of things. You can authorise PayPal to make payments online at the swipe of your finger — for pretty much anything (that’s much more than Apple can say, right now).
We don’t have any details yet on whether any physical store retailers plan to support Samsung and PayPal’s mobile payment solution. But considering the value of “closing the loop” — letting retailers know which consumers made which purchases in which stores — it wouldn’t be surprising to see companies integrate both Apple and Samsung’s solutions in their stores over the next few years.