Apple Pushes for an ‘Easier Way to Pay’
Using Your iPhone as a Digital Wallet
January 14, 2015 by Jake Butler
No-contact payment systems have slowly started to take root across the country, but Apple’s latest product unveiling in September has set some pretty lofty goals for how the technology will be used going forward.
Now the tech giant has integrated near-field communication (NFC) into their mobile devices, which should help propel digital wallets into the forefront of American commerce.
In this case, NFC works by establishing radio communication between your smartphone and the payment terminal. Once you've loaded your credit card information into an app, payment is as simple as waving your phone in front of the terminal.
While the technology has been around for a while now, this still feels like a big step towards making digital wallets more prevalent.
What devices does it work with?
As of right now, only the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus are supported, as they both come with built-in NFC support as well as a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. When Apple Watch launches in early 2015 it will also support the technology. If you have an older phone – an iPhone 5, 5c, or 5s – those versions will also be compatible with the watch, so you don't necessarily have to buy a new phone just yet if you’re interested in using Apple Pay.
What apps do I need?
The system will utilize Apple's existing Passbook iOS application. If you have a credit or debit card tied to your account via iTunes, that's the card that will be used by default. But if you want to use a different one, you can do so by adding it to Passbook at any time. You’ll then be able to toggle between different cards whenever you check out.
How does it work exactly?
In stores that support NFC, all you have to do is approach the payment terminal. For iPhone 6 users, your payment options will pop up automatically on the phone's screen. All you have to do is select the saved card you want to use and swipe your fingerprint for authentication. If you're using Apple Watch, it's as simple as pressing the physical button on the side of the device. Whichever device you use, you'll get a confirmation screen to review before you process the transaction.
What kind of cards can I use?
Apple Pay supports all major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Most debit cards work too, but it depends on your bank. For service members, USAA and Navy Federal are both included. Click here for a full list of all participating banks.
What about Android users?
Android has a very similar option called Google Wallet, which you can download from the app market as long as your phone's operating system is Gingerbread v2.3 or better. You can use it to shop in stores, buy online, or send money electronically. It also integrates other helpful features like purchase tracking, shopping notifications, and detailed order histories. You can even upload gift cards, which is perfect for post-holiday shopping.
Just keep in mind this is all relatively new technology, so most places have not implemented these kinds of no-touch payment terminals just yet. This is just the beginning of a long-term overhaul to the way we pay in stores. On or near military bases, the three biggest companies to implement these terminals are probably McDonalds, Subway, and Walgreens, but we should start seeing more and more businesses adopt NFC payment options as time goes on.