The “contactless payments” market, which allows shoppers to pay for items by simply waving their credit or debit cards above a sensor at the point of sale, is set to really take off in the coming years. Also, with millennials utilizing mobile banking more than any other group, financial transactions via phone are increasingly becoming commonplace for the average consumer.
Because of the advances of RFID technology, tech companies like Apple and Amazon, not banks, are leading the way. Instead of pulling out their credit card, consumers are able to hold their mobile phone a few inches away from a contactless reader and buy whatever they want.
How to set up and get the most out of Apple Pay
To explore the benefits of contactless payments, I wanted to set up Apple Pay on my new iPhone and try it out. Users will need a few things before starting Apple Pay: an iCloud account, a credit or debit card and, of course, an Apple device.
Contrary to popular belief, Apple Pay is not an app; it is a feature of another app, called Wallet, which comes pre-downloaded on your phone. What makes Wallet unique is that you can store all your virtual valuables in it, such as coupons, gift cards, boarding passes, tickets and reward cards.
That means you can use your phone for a vast number of everyday transactions, like buying movie tickets, catching a flight, redeeming coupons and much more.
What sets Apple Pay a part from other mobile banking apps is Touch TD, which is revolutionary for a cell phone. Outside of the iPhone X, which just introduced face ID recognition, Touch ID’s fingerprint identity sensor is the most advanced authentication system on a smartphone.
Before you open the Wallet app, you’ll need to input your credit or debt card information into your Apple account. If you’ve paid for apps at some point, it’s a good chance your iPhone already has your payment information stored. Once you confirm your payment information, it will actually create a secure scan of your card (minus your name).
While signing up for Apple Pay, the company will ask if you want to allow “analytics of usage data from your iPhone” — i.e. they want to know if it’s OK to track your actions on the app. I chose not to allow it, but of course, you can change these permissions later if you wish.
Once I clicked continue, I got a notification that let me know that “Wells Fargo Platinum Debit” is ready for Apple Pay. The card I used when I paid for some extra iCloud storage was already on file, so the app just pulled it into Apple Pay.
Now that I was ready to go, the Wallet app showed me a feature that said, “Find apps for Wallet.” So, essentially, this takes the guess work out of locating which stores or vendors accept Apple Pay — they’re all listed here.
Once you click that, you will be taken to a page that has an assortment of “passes,” — gift cards, rewards and coupons that can be used via the Wallet app.
When I went inside a local Starbucks to test out Apple Pay, they couldn’t accept it, saying that they didn’t have a reader. When I went to another location a few miles away, though, they had the necessary technology.
To buy my Peppermint Mocha, all I had to do was place my finger on the home button to verify my identity via Touch ID, then hold my phone over the contactless reader.
On my home screen, a quick “Done” popped up, then a checkmark. I had purchased via Apple Pay!
For stores that take Apple Pay, look for a “tap and go” symbol somewhere around the cash register. On its website, Apple has provided a list of stores and websites that are compatible.