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Samsung Pay Fails To Add Cards On Encrypted Devices

November 6, 2015 - Written By David Steele

Samsung’s mobile payment technology, Samsung Pay, is currently only available on Samsung devices. We have seen a rumor that Samsung considered allowing non-Samsung devices to use the payment, but for now, only Samsung devices are able to use the application and service. However, for security reasons, customers cannot use a rooted device with the Samsung Pay application. This is because when a device is rooted, it means applications could potentially read some of the Samsung Pay files and gain access to privileged data on the device. Many financial applications, or those designed to work with sensitive information, have a similar policy of not working on a rooted device.

However, in a strange turn of events, when XDA Member, mattspierce, tried to use the Samsung Pay application on a stock Galaxy S6, which was encrypted, he was unable to add a card to the application, with it reporting “Couldn’t contact the server” error. Resorting to Google as a first port of call, it appeared that mattspierce was not alone in this issue. And the common denominator was that other Samsung customers unable to add a payment card to Samsung Pay also had their devices encrypted. Next, mattspierce contacted Samsung Technical Support and received a reply that explained that a card may not be added to an encrypted Samsung device. Payment cards may only be added to a decrypted Samsung device – the customer services representative provided instructions to decrypt the device, which could possibly mean the device requires a factory reset. It is unclear if the application can be used on an encrypted device if the card is added before encryption.

This restriction means that a Samsung device encrypted with the full KNOX security service is unable to work properly with Samsung Pay, which seems such a bizarre situation for Samsung to find itself in. Is this an intentional decision by Samsung? Is Samsung working on a fix for adding cards to an encrypted device? Samsung has poured a lot of time and effort into Samsung Pay and seems determined to make the technology work, despite giving it strict requirements (it only works in certain regions around the world, with certain Samsung devices). One would have thought that having an encrypted device would be a sensible move before using Samsung Pay. If this is an intention decision from Samsung, it undermines much of their work for improving device security. If this is an unintentional glitch, let us hope that a fix is in the works and will be released soon.