The mobile payments industry has exploded into the mainstream since its relatively obscure beginnings, and more consumers than ever are realizing the advantages that secure mobile payments offer. Because mobile payments store a consumer’s financial information on an item frequently carried on their person such as a keychain, a mobile payment device makes it unnecessary to carry cash for added security.
The newest trend in mobile payments is integrating them with mobile devices, and the two top names in the smartphone payments industry are Apple Pay and Google Wallet, each of which turns a device compatible with its respective operating system into a mobile payments device. Each of these services deliver a higher level of convenience and security than cash and debit or credit cards, but there are a few key differences that may make one a superior option for you.
Google Wallet is designed for use with all Android devices running version 4.4 and beyond, making it compatible with all current generation devices available from the manufacturer. Google Wallet must be activated before each use, and a payment is made by holding the appropriate screen over the mobile payments scanner at the point of sale. The financial information is stored securely in Google’s proprietary cloud, meaning that it will not be on the phone if it is stolen.
Google Wallet adds another layer of security by requiring a preset Google Wallet PIN number be entered to confirm each purchase, and only when the transaction is fully authorized is the payment method charged. A central limitation to Google Wallet is their slow introduction to the international market, only recently having expanded outside of the US, making it a less than complete solution for international payments.
The iOS counterpart, Apple Pay, is compatible with all devices running system version 8 and later. Apple Pay is always active by default, even when the phone is on standby, and payments are made by simply holding the device over the mobile payments scanner at the time of sale. Once the fingerprint-scan authorization is completed, the payment method is drawn from automatically.
Apple Pay functions slightly differently from Google Wallet in that the source financial information is stored directly on the phone, which does present some risk of exposure if the phone is lost or stolen. However, Apple Pay is even more limited in the international marketplace, as it allows transactions virtually anywhere in the world, but only with a US-based card.
Each of the most popular smartphone-based mobile payments providers offers its own benefits to the consumer, but in the end a user’s choice of utility is largely defined by their preferred smartphone type. Nevertheless, the mobile payments industry continues to thrive, and imminent expansion should give wider access to mobile payments options as support for them continues to grow.