Mobile payments are believed to represent the future of money, with more and more retailers as well as consumers responding positively to the shift. Mobile payments eliminate the need to carry cash or a debit card, with the user’s financial information integrated into a secure system within the mobile payment device, which is then read at the point of sale so that payment for a purchase can be deducted from the payment method backing it.
Mobile payments solutions have proliferated in recent years, but the two most popular providers of mobile payment services are Apple Pay and Google Wallet, which turn a compatible Android or iOS smartphone into a payment device. Apple Pay and Google Wallet are similar services by design, and although they share the advantages of added security and convenience when compared with conventional debit cards, a few differences in approach serve to distinguish them significantly.
Apple Pay is designed for use with iOS devices running iOS version 8 and above. To use Apple Pay, users must simply hold their phone over an Apple Pay-branded scanner at the time of purchase, and the payment system activates automatically, even if the phone is on standby at the time. Apple also protects users from inadvertent or unauthorized purchases by requiring a fingerprint scan before verifying a purchase.
Apple Pay is currently limited to the US, but has indicated intentions to expand its operations. Apple Pay stores the source payment information for its mobile spending feature directly on the phone, which has both positive and negative aspects. A benefit to this arrangement is that this provides a nearly impenetrable level of security, but only so long as the device is in the owner’s possession. If the device is lost or stolen, the information will remain in the memory of the device until the memory is erased.
Google Wallet is an Android application compatible with system versions 4.4 or later, and so it can be used with most current generation devices. Using Google Wallet starts with activating the app before holding the phone screen over a Google Waller reader. The user then enters his unique Google Wallet PIN number to officially authorize the purchase before the payment method is finally charged. Google Wallet serves the US only at this time, and no announcements of imminent expansion have been made by the company.
Mobile payments both make purchasing easier and provide protection from retailer data breaches, which have resulted from consumers providing their financial information directly to the retailer. Dispite their differing strengths and weaknesses, Apple Pay and Google Wallet both enable simple, secure shopping at the touch of a screen, and the mobile payments marketplace will only gain traction as these providers continue to address the needs of those they serve.
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