Tap and Go? The Pros and Cons of Paying with Your Phone

The physical wallet is slowly becoming obsolete. The phone industry is attempting to monopolize the wallet and everything in it, including our credit cards and loyalty cards. But how safe is it? With the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Android coming out with their respective Pay programs, it’s the question we should all be asking. Can we really start paying with our phones and leave the wallet at home? Here are the pros and cons of that concept.

Pro: No more bulky wallet in your purse or pocket

Convenience is king in the modern world, and we look for shortcuts wherever we can find them. Who has time to fumble through their wallet to find the right credit card when your smartphone can carry those cards digitally? The Pay programs can free up a lot of extra space in your purse or pocket, letting you carry things you might not otherwise be able to bring along. Losing your phone is also less of a risk than losing your wallet; most phones come with locator technology if you lose them, and lock codes that make accessing your private data extremely difficult for a would-be thief.

Con: Things don’t always go according to plan

Let’s be honest: technology is amazing, but it’s not perfect. There’s always someone struggling to start their Powerpoint presentation because the audio isn’t working, or someone who couldn’t make an important call on their phone because their battery just died. We’ve all had those moments of wanting to bang our heads against the computer because we suddenly lost what we’d been working on. Phones are no different–they’re just as susceptible to unexpected behavior as any other piece of technology.

Pro: Fingerprint recognition on both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay

Fingerprint recognition adds an extra layer of security for your credit cards, and is probably the most popular form of biometric security. Because no two fingerprints are exactly alike, it’s an extremely effective way to confirm that someone is who they say they are. So, for example, if anyone else but you wanted to use your Pay method, you would have to scan their fingerprint into the system to allow them access.

Con: Your credit card information is on your phone

There is no denying that putting your credit card information online is a bit nerve-wracking. With Apple, Samsung, and Android Pay, you are asked to put your credit card information into your phone. Although these companies assure you that your information is stored safely, one can’t help but be a bit skeptical. Apple states that, “With Apple Pay… a unique Device Account Number is assigned… so your actual credit or debit card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted with payment.” Android similarly states, “When you shop at a merchant, Android Pay doesn’t send your actual credit or debit card number with your payment. Instead we use a virtual account number to represent your account information — so your card details stay safe.” Samsung is a bit more vague, but says, “your purchases remain yours alone. Samsung Pay uses several layers of security. It keeps your payment information separate and doesn’t store or share it, so you can pay without worry.” Take that for what it’s worth.

With data breaches becoming a fairly regular news item these days, it’s only natural that you’d be a bit wary of digitizing your credit cards. But from what we’ve seen so far, the mobile Pay functions aren’t any more dangerous than swiping your card at a register the old-fashioned way. As with any new technology, it’s more of a try-it-at-your-own-risk kind of thing, and time will tell whether this new method of paying will be both effective and safe.

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About the author

Photo of Erik Fullmer

Erik Fullmer

Erik was raised in many places but has long since called Utah home. Rooted in mountains, he spends a lot of time with his dogs in the mountains and in the winter he skis… a lot.

Erik is actively earning the necessary certifications and training to become a certified AMGA Ski Guide.

With over a decade of content writing experience, Erik finds passion when writing for the tech and outdoor recreation industries.