Pay Goes Where?!

I’ve been following mobile payment such as Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay for years. My interest goes all the way back to Google Wallet and Venmo. It’s been a topic of conversation for retailers for years. At work, I’ve been doing nonstop integrations to allow payment bridge companies to adopt EMV (Chip-And-Pin). While new and noteworthy, it seemed like a gimmick. I never really used it. It felt like a dodge compared to a useful feature-set. Then last week happened…

Getting Around NYC

I was in NYC last week doing an installation in Time Square. I had to go pick up some hardware in mid-town. Like a busy little beaver, I hopped in a cab and off I went. While I was sitting there I saw the payment terminal advertise Pay. I was feeling exceptionally lazy at that moment and realized I hadn’t really used Pay from my Watch. Upon arrival, I double tap the side button and bump it to the terminal. Payment initiates, and I’m able to get out. No wallet. No fumbling. Completely friction-less; that’s cool. I figured that would be my once-every-six-month use case. I mean, not every cab is going to have that. Right?

I left the hardware store with my hands full of metal bars, bolts, screws, etc. I scurry to the curb and luck out with another cabby who saw me. Bonus! I get my stuff in the cab and off we go. I arrive at the job site and realize the same terminal is in this cab. My hands are full so I double tap, bump, and off I go. Even cooler; no fumbling with my hands full. That was convenient.

Panic Sets In…

The next day I left my house sans wallet. I almost never forget it. That day I went to Starbucks for breakfast. As I always do, I use their app to pay. I didn’t realize until mid-day that I’m without my billfold. No ID. No Cash. No Plastic. I immediately get the sinking feeling I’m going to be eating lunch at the candy basket at work.

Lunch-time arrives and my boss offers to pickup the tab at Shoprite. As a side note, if you haven’t been to a Village Food Garden inside a grocery…go. It’s AWESOME! In any case, I get my food and look at the terminal; inconspicuous and aloof. As a curious man, I double tap the button on my phone and tap it to the terminal. I don’t expect anything to happen. Approved! I smile ear-to-ear and look at the checkout person in glee. She giggles and says no one ever tries.

My drive home is always a challenge. I like to grab a seltzer and catch the last half of Howard Stern to pass the time. Forgetting I’m without a wallet, I get my Perrier (Booshy I know) and head to the automated checkout. In a panic, realizing I have no traditional payment methods. Reluctantly I press “Credit Card” and tap my Watch to the payment terminal. Approved! I walk back to my var with an extra pep in my step. This is awesome.

A brave new world!

Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have come of age. I’ve realized that while the United States has been focused on EMV, we’ve forgotten about wireless payment. The positive is, the payment terminal companies haven’t! I was shocked at how ubiquitous and easy using Pay really was. It’s a delight! It’s simple, easy and infinitely more secure than mag-stripe. I personally believe it’s even more secure than EMV.

While I’d highly recommend trying Pay or Android Pay, Samsung Pay still has me confused. Samsung acquired a company LoopPay, that popularized a technology called MST. This emulates the old mag-stripe tech. This is highly insecure and doesn’t always work. Samsung Pay supports NFC as well. It’s just another choice in the process. Outside of confusing users with MST, Samsung also hasn’t publicly commented on their methods for data storage of financial info. For these reasons, I’d steer towards Google and Apple. I feel as though the damage that could be done to mobile payment by Samsung would ruin the joy the others bring.

I’ve changed my attitude on mobile payment. I can see how it would absolutely be the future of credit and debt payment. I’m excited to see where it goes in the next few years. The experience I had by accident forced me to try something I was turned off to as an early adopter. I’m not going to discount the efforts it has taken to get the experience established either. If Apple and Google have worked this hard, I’ll certainly be happy to roll with them into the future.

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