All about Digital Wallets and Mobile Pay

A couple of weeks ago, two members of our community asked questions about tap-and-pay mobile wallets. So I’ve been doing a little research to give you a short guide to how to use your phone to pay at retail stores.

To be honest, I don’t use mobile pay often. I simply forget I have it, and I end up pulling out my credit card before recognizing that I can use the mobile options. One time I got all excited because I could use it at a soda vending machine — so much so that I bought three sodas. But for the most part, I just use my cards.

 

Who Is Using Mobile Pay?

Digital wallets started appearing about three years ago, but a February 2017 report by J.P.Morgan revealed that only 16% of us have ever tried tap-and-pay… and only about a third of all retail merchants are offering it. It kinda doesn’t make sense, given the buzz around the technology, the (probably) increased security and the convenience of not having to dig in your purse for your physical wallet. But the numbers in general are dismal, despite the increasing availability and technology.

Why Use Mobile Pay?

In addition to looking like the cool kid when you whip out your phone to purchase your cupcakes, mobile pay offers a few other benefits.

  1. One-time token payment codes mean that your credit cards are less likely to be swiped if the retailer is hacked — kinda like the logic behind the chips used in many credit card terminals these days. (Note, I said less likely. Nothing is 100% safe).
  2. You’re not handing over a physical card, which means the clerk doesn’t have the opportunity to swipe your card into a fake card reader to steal your numbers.
  3. Once you set up the payment systems, you can often use them online and on different devices including wearables and computers. I use Apple Pay a lot for online purchases via my phone.
  4. You may also be able to add your loyalty cards to your digital wallets so it’s easier to check out at grocery stores and pharmacies.

Mobile Payment Types: Stores and Phones

Right now it looks like you have two categories of mobile tap-and-pay options: store-specific apps and phone-specific functionality.

Store-specific apps are like the ones you find at Starbucks, where you open the Starbucks app at the Starbucks stores and use their own system to pay. Walmart has one as well, though Walmart’s acts more like the mobile payments below in that you are using another form of credit. With Starbucks, you carry a balance that Starbucks uses for your payment. P.S. — Starbucks make bank from the interest it earns holding your money. 🙂

Phone Payment Types: Apple, Android and Samsung

The three big players in the phone-specific mobile payment category are Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. They all work a little differently. Apple and Android work with a technology called NFC (Near-Field Communication), and Samsung has a more universal payment method.

Look for these icons at checkout for mobile pay options:

Apple Pay
Apple released mobile pay options in 2014, and they quickly gained the biggest market share. To use Apple Pay at a store, the store has to have the proper technology.

The Apple Pay feature is inside Apple Wallet.

  1. Add a card by pressing on the plus sign.
  2. Either let the app scan the card or enter it manually.
  3. Apple will contact your card issuer for verification. You may have to enter a code your issuer sends you.
  4. When you want to pay, quickly double click your home button.
  5. Hold the phone near the reader until it connects.
  6. Your fingerprint authorizes the sale.
  7. You then get a receipt via Apple Pay.

Android Pay

Like Apple Pay, Android Pay uses NFC.

  1. Download or open the Android Pay app.
  2. Sign into your Google account.
  3. Add a card by pressing on the plus sign.
  4. Scan your card and verify the info.
  5. Android will contact your card issuer for verification. You may have to enter a code your issuer sends you.
  6. When you want to pay, unlock your phone.
  7. Hold the back of the phone on the terminal’s sensor for a couple of seconds.
  8. Use a passcode or your fingerprint to verify the sale.
  9. You then get a receipt via Android Pay.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Galaxy devices (for now) are the superstars of the mobile pay world. The NFC technology that Android and Apple uses is only available on 36% of all terminals, but Samsung’s wallet works with almost any device that can read a credit card magnetic strip. In addition, the Samsung Pass feature hooks you up for payments online. Samsung Pay also rewards you for use with points for the Samsung store.

  1. Open the Samsung Pay app.
  2. Sign into your Samsung account.
  3. Register your fingerprint and/or iris for security and payment authorization.
  4. Add a card by pressing on the plus sign.
  5. Scan your card and verify the info.
  6. Wait for authorization (you may have to enter a signature).
  7. When you want to pay, unlock your phone.
  8. Hold the back of the phone on the terminal’s sensor for a couple of seconds.
  9. Use your iris or fingerprint to verify the sale.
  10. You then get a receipt via Samsung Pay.

Are you part of the 16% who has used a digital wallet? What do you use? Here’s what my nerdy friend Steve Folstein said…

 

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