BARCELONA: Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones, has announced its entry into the mobile payment sector, where it will be taking on Apple with a new Samsung Pay service.

The move coincides with the launch of its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge handsets, which will be the first devices to offer this new payment system.

The Korean company is looking to steal a march on Apple - which injected new life into the sluggish mobile payment market with the launch of Apple Pay in conjunction with its iPhone 6 handset last year - by offering a system that will be usable in a larger number of stores than Apple Pay.

Samsung Pay is the result of the company's recent purchase of LoopPay, a technology that converts existing magnetic card readers into contactless payment receivers. Samsung estimates that will make its system potentially compatible with 90% of existing card terminals, equating to some 30 million merchant locations worldwide.

By contrast, Apple Pay requires in-store payment terminals to be equipped with near field communications technology, a capability that Samsung Pay also has.

"Samsung Pay will reinvent how people pay for goods and services and transform how they use their smartphones," JK Shin, co-CEO of the IT and mobile divisions at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The company has the backing of the MasterCard and Visa payment networks, as well as various financial institutions including American Express, Bank of America, Citi and JPMorgan Chase.

"This is the kind of momentum we need to go from a science project to reality," said James Anderson, MasterCard's senior vice president of shared platform services.

Data sourced from CNET; additional content by Warc staff