What to Know Before Setting up Mobile Pay

Mobile payments seem like the model of efficiency — just wave your smartphone, smartwatch or tablet in front of a payment terminal, and your account is automatically billed for your purchase. However, like all technological innovations, mobile payments come with a unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a look at four factors to consider before setting up mobile payments on your device.


Not every smartphone, smartwatch or tablet can support mobile payments. You’ll need a device with near-field communication capabilities, which are typically found in higher-end electronics. You’ll also need to find and set up the right mobile wallet system for your device: Apple Pay for iOS devices, Google Pay for Android and Samsung Pay for Samsung phones. Chase Pay and Walmart Pay work for nearly any NFC-capable device. However, the financial institution providing your credit or debit card also has to accept your mobile payment platform.


According to Brian Yeager, an analyst for eMarketer, mobile payments are more secure than credit cards. He explains that most payment apps generate a unique, one-time-use code for each transaction. That way, if hackers were to intercept the payment, they would only find a string of meaningless code — not your credit card or bank account information. Mobile pay also requires you to authorize each payment with your fingerprint, so it’s much harder for crooks to fake your identity when making purchases. For an added layer of protection, if your phone falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely disable your payment apps.


Mobile payments are fast — instead of digging through your purse or wallet to pay with cash or credit, you simply wave your device in front of a terminal. Mobile payments are even compatible with credit card incentive programs and customer loyalty bonuses, so you can earn rewards without carrying around a bunch of cards. However, if your phone runs out of power, you simply can’t access your money to make payments. If you’re committed to making your wallet go digital, be sure to have a charger or a portable power bank on hand for emergencies.


Mobile payments are still quite new; consequently, many retailers haven’t adopted the technology needed to process these payments. According to Elizabeth Harper, a contributor to TechSpot.com, only 36 percent of retailers take Apple Pay, the most widely accepted form of mobile payment as of recently. Further, some major retailers, including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, CVS and Target, have developed their own mobile payment systems — meaning that these stores won’t accept payments from Apple, Google or Samsung’s apps. According to eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu, consumers enjoy retailer-specific payment apps because they grant rewards and special offers on their favorite products. With so many companies trying to forge their own way, mobile payments are currently too fragmented to truly replace cash, credit and debit payments.

If you live in a high-tech urban area, you may find mobile payments quite convenient. However, if you have an older device, frequent an assortment of stores, or often find your devices running low on battery power, you might be safer sticking to traditional payment methods.

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