Mobile phones have come a long way since they were just semi-portable telephones. Today you’ll find all types of apps and games available for your phone, and many can do much more than simply dial a number. One of the most useful ways to use your mobile is to make mobile payments.
What Are Mobile Wallets?
Near Field Communication, or NFC, is the key to mobile wallet success. When an NFC-enabled phone is tapped on a checkout terminal, it transfers necessary information to the machine to allow you to pay without carrying cash, credit cards, or anything but your phone. The technology essentially turns your basic smartphone into a virtual payment system.
Interestingly enough, despite privacy and security concerns, NFC is more secure than your credit card because, if your phone is stolen, all the information can be erased remotely in a matter of minutes. This provides a level of security that is simply not possible with a credit card.
Another big advantage of the mobile wallet is that you can receive offers and discounts directly to your phone, letting you know when you can save money. Not only does this offer companies a whole new method of marketing, it provides consumers with new ways to receive coupons and special offers.
All that being said, adoption of this new technology may be slow. While around 141 million people had made mobile transactions by the end of 2011, the vast majority of those were exclusively to transfer money. Researchers estimate that it will take about four years for mobile payments to really take off and become generally accepted.
Choosing a Mobile Payment Option
What should you be looking for in a mobile payment option? As more and more services appear, selection is key if you want the best service.
Look at what options are available for payment. For example, Google Wallet allows you to use Google’s PrePaid Card, which can be loaded with any major credit card. This is a quick-and-easy method to use, but some mobile wallets may offer more limited choices. If this is the case, you want to be sure that you have access to your cards for payment.
Security is also important. Check to see if the wallet uses a password. You will also want to review the various security features that the wallet service offers, to be sure you’re getting the best possible.
What Are Your Choices?
At the moment, the field is still not overwhelmingly large. Here are a few of the options for mobile wallets that are available at the moment.
My Visa Wallet: Top credit card companies are a sure bet for this type of service, and Visa is one of the early adopters of cell phone technology. Using My Visa Wallet, you can use your mobile to pay for products and services from participating companies with your Visa card.
Google Wallet: As of December 2011, Google Wallet supported the use of two different credit cards, the Google PrePaid card, and most MasterCards that are Citi PayPass eligible. For those with another type of credit card, it’s relatively easy to load the Google PrePaid Card with another card. This can be installed on any Android phone and used at thousands of locations, including Home Depot, McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Toys“R”Us, and Chevron, to name a few.
Paypal Wallet: It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the online payment processor is in on mobile payments as well. Paypal allows you to pay with your Paypal balance, credit card, or a debit card. You can even change the way you want to pay after the fact. So, if you decide that you want to pay with a debit card instead of your Paypal balance once you have completed the transaction, this is completely possible, making for a more flexible experience.
Sprint Mobile Wallet: The popular telecommunications company makes it possible to pay participating merchants via your cell phone. It offers one-click payment using your registered account information to make it very simple to pay the bills.
Other mobile wallets are coming onto the market throughout 2012, giving consumers a wider range of choices for their cashless spending.