Earlier this month, Samsung cryptically announced that it would be launching a debit card this winter and that it was partnering with fintech startup SoFi to do it. Now, we have some more details about what this new debit card will look like — and how it’ll work.
Editor’s Note: At this stage, it’s unlikely Samsung’s debit card will launch in Australia. Stay tuned to Gizmodo Australia for more news around its release.
For starters, this card is called Samsung Money by SoFi. Elegant. As Samsung said in its initial announcement, Samsung Money is both a cash management account and a Mastercard-branded debit card. (If you’re not a personal finance nerd, a cash management account basically mashes together a regular checking account with some of the perks of a saving/investment account.) Samsung says the account will be “secure, with no account fees, and rewards users for saving” with a higher interest rate.
As for rewards, Samsung says those who enroll in the Samsung Rewards program can earn points for their purchases. Existing Samsung Pay users who already have 1,000 or more points can also redeem them for cash to be deposited directly into the account. (If you’re curious, according to the footnote in Samsung’s announcement, 1,000 points translates to $US5 ($8).)
Users will also have the option of opening an individual or joint account. The account itself will also be FDIC-insured for $US1.5 ($2) million — or six times that of a normal bank account. The fine print in Samsung’s announcement notes that’s possible as the cash balance will be “swept up into one or more program banks” and that there are six banks available at $US250,000 ($375,850) each. So take that $US1.5 ($2) million guarantee with a grain of salt, as it could be lower depending on whether you have existing assets at one or more of the available banks.
Speaking of fine print, while the account will launch with no fees, Samsung notes that’s “subject to change at any time” based on the card’s account terms and conditions.
There are a lot of similarities between what Samsung’s offering and the Apple Card — though the main difference is Samsung Money is a bank account plus a debit card, while the Apple Card is just a credit card. Design-wise, Samsung is following Apple’s strategy of putting no identifying information on the physical card itself. The card number, expiration date, and CVV will be stored exclusively within the Samsung Pay app, and requires either “biometric or PIN authentication” to access.
Samsung is also taking a page from Apple in terms of pushing an extremely mobile-first product. According to Samsung, users should be able to check balances, view past statements, and search transactions from within the Samsung Pay app. They’ll also be able to flag fishy activity, pause or restart spending, freeze/unfreeze their card, change pin numbers, and assign a “trusted” contact from the app itself. Applying for the card will also be done within the app, with the physical card arriving later on in the mail. That said, Samsung Money by SoFi won’t be completely cashless. Like many online-only banks, you can take out cash without fees, so long as it’s from one of Allpoint’s 55,000+ ATMs.
Another way they’re similar? Samsung Money by SoFi will be limited to Samsung Pay — meaning you have to have a compatible Samsung smartphone or wearable device. Those with non-Samsung Android phones and iOS users won’t be able to use the card.
But you have other options. Samsung isn’t the only tech company to boost its payment platform with a branded card. Apple did it last year with its Apple Card, but Google is also reportedly working on something very similar to what Samsung’s offering. The company may be planning to launch its own checking accounts, and leaks revealed a Google debit card could be on its way. Should we all be screaming that Big Tech is now getting enmeshed with banking and finding new ways to get into our wallets? Probably, but it also looks like this trend isn’t stopping anytime soon.