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Will Mobile Payments Become the Norm?

Smart phone apps iconsThe idea of using a smartphone or mobile device to make payments at a physical store is not exactly new. After all, Google launched its Google Wallet app all the way back in 2011, using then-new NFC (or Near-Field Communication) technology in smartphones to come up with a new way for paying at stores. Instead of handing over cash or swiping a card, customers at physical stores or on public transportation could simply hold their phone near a contactless reader. The reader would then communicate with the phone and the Google Wallet app, accept the payment, and send confirmation.

The Benefits

Google’s idea was and is interesting, because it represented a potential evolution in the way shopping is done. For so long, the norm has been credit cards and cash. The idea of actually getting to a point where shoppers could reduce their reliance on both of those payment methods is exciting for numerous reasons.

Not only do mobile payment systems give users a chance to carry fewer items in their wallets, but they also present new potential for keeping payments secure and encrypted. After the Target credit card breach that happened last year, that second bit is an especially exciting possibility.

The Drawbacks

Of course, there are also cons to these mobile payment systems that need to be overcome. The biggest of these is the technology needed for retailers to actually receive mobile payments. There aren’t many businesses these days that don’t have a credit card scanner, but you can imagine how long it will take for mobile payment readers to become a universal item. Consumers will have to push hard for mobile payments to convince some retailers—especially smaller, private businesses—to invest in an NFC contactless reader.

The issue, of course, is that many consumers will probably be afraid of this technology instead of wanting to push for it. Some will be scared that the payments done through their phones aren’t secure, while others will worry about phone theft even more than they would otherwise. And indeed, it is true that linking phones to bank accounts or credit cards would make criminals and thieves target them more fiercely.

New Mobile Payment Methods

Still, despite these hurdles, many companies are joining Google in the mobile payment landscape. Apple added their name to the list earlier this fall, announcing a payment method that made great leaps and bounds in the security and “peace of mind” categories. Apple Pay allows iPhone 6 users to link credit cards to their phones and make NFC payments in physical stores. However, Apple has developed a clever system that doesn’t actually store credit card numbers on the phone, so that hackers can’t access payment information. The payment system also works with the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner, which means that phone thieves wouldn’t be able to do much of anything with Apple Pay.

Apple pay isn’t the only new arrival in the mobile payment game. Snapchat recently announced a payment method of their own (called Snapcash, of course), and PayPal just decided to bring its own mobile payment system to Pebble smartwatches. Perhaps mobile payments really are the way of the future. If that’s the case, though, you’ll want to make sure your phone is protected at all times, and what better way to do that than with a new phone case from eHolster?