LG G8 Phones Get a New Mobile Payments Edge

July 18, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

It’s not every day we get a chance to talk about the device side of mobile payments, but a recently-unveiled advance from LG has shaken up the market wonderfully. The LG G8 has just upgraded LG’s position in the mobile payments market, effectively giving its LG Pay system a range and effectiveness similar to that of Samsung Pay itself.

Certain LG smartphones are now able to generate magnetic signals that, as far as card readers are concerned, is pretty much the same as those generated by a standard magstripe credit card. For a while, such a mechanism was strictly the province of Samsung devices.

Right now, LG’s competitive threat is somewhat diminished by the fact that only the LG G8 ThinQ system can generate this signal, but LG notes that “other LG smartphones” will be getting access to the signal generation capacity. Additionally, LG Pay only supports a certain number of credit cards for use with the system. It only accepts Visa and Mastercard issued by Chase, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, Virginia Credit Union, US Bank, and the State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina.

Just to round out the problems, LG Pay—much like Samsung Pay—cannot be used for cash withdrawals at ATMs or at many gas station terminals that require a card be completely inserted. It will, however, allow users to store gift cards and loyalty cards in the app, and can be launched even while the device is asleep.

Given the sheer laundry list of caveats involved in this release, it’s a safe bet that LG Pay isn’t going to make much of a splash in the market, at least not immediately. It’s an even tighter walled garden than Apple Pay is, which means that even if people were looking for a reason to leave Google Pay or the like, they probably don’t have the right phone, card, or combination therein to use the service.

It’s a good start, but it’s only a start. Given how developed the mobile payments market already is, LG Pay may never be much more than a sideshow. However, since LG likely isn’t counting on anything more than additional revenue from LG Pay payments processing, this may not be such a bad development after all.