Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mobile Payments in 2017: Are we ready to leave our wallets home?

These days you can use your phone to pay in most places. When I go for fast food, I can use Apple Pay directly at McDonald's or Subway, but if I want to use it at my local Krispy Kreme, it becomes challenging. Things become even more complicated when purchasing items at retailers like Walmart or when I need to buy gas.

First on my list is Restaurants. You can use Apple Pay directly at many fast food places. For those you can't, you can easily use either their designated app or purchase a gift card and scan that from your device. Both options can offer a significant discount either from the store or by buying discount gift cards from places like Raise, which is also almost instant.

Sit down restaurants are still a big problem. Some chain restaurants have brought on table terminals, making mobile payments easy. Most places I go to still require the usual process of asking for a bill and either paying with cash or giving them your credit card. Not the most secure thing to do. I still have yet to find a good alternative for these situations, but am welcome to any suggestions.

On the topic of food. Things are much easier when it comes to groceries. In fact, all of the local grocery stores I shop at offer mobile payments including Giant and Weis. This makes things convenient, and I don't even have to pull out my wallet to pay.

Gas stations and other forms of transportation are troubling. This is tricky because it's so hit or miss. To keep all options available you still have to carry a traditional credit card and sometimes even cash.

ExxonMobil came up with a creative solution for pay at the pump. They offer an app that allows you to either scan or select a pump and pay with Apple Pay or a credit card loaded into the app. This is great because it also automatically links with your Plenti rewards card. At least in my area, no other gas stations have any pay at the pump solution for mobile devices. This is something that will hopefully change with time, but many gas stations still offer discounts for paying with cash.

Public transportation is even more challenging. Many buses in my area still require either a card, cash or a pass. Trains are a similar situation. They require you to either purchase tickets from a kiosk using a credit card or ordering the tickets in advance.

Department stores are the most difficult. Many have no solutions in place other than buying gift cards which you can scan on your device, which works with only mixed results. This also requires you to keep track of partial gift card values. Walmart does have plans to offer an app for mobile payments which is expected to be released soon. They do currently offer an app to scan items while you shop and skip the checkout if you're lucky enough to live near the four stores that accept it.

Overall mobile payments are accepted at many more locations than a year or two ago. We are still in no situation to leave are wallets behind, but we are getting close. Mobile payments are convenient in many cases since our phones are always close at hand and are frequently more secure. It's still somewhat redundant if you have to carry other forms of payment anyway.

If you liked this post check out my post on automating your home.

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