Swipe, dip, tap, insert. It can be confusing when you approach the check-out counter, but contactless payments are now a popular way to transmit funds. And if you think making purchases with your phone is something for a far-off future, the ability is probably in your hands right now.
The technology behind it
To understand how this process works, you first must be familiar with radio-frequency identification, or RFID. This technology uses a memory chip to store data and an antenna to send information to a reader when they are in close proximity. Examples include security tags on clothing in department stores, microchips implanted in pets and, of course, credit & debit cards. In fact, you may already have tap-to-pay access. If the contactless symbol (which looks like a sideways Wi-Fi signal) is on the back of the card, it means you’re good to go.
Near-field communication, or NFC, is a slightly more advanced cousin to RFID. Such memory chips can also act as readers, meaning you can send and receive data—and money—from one device to another if they’re within an inch or two of each other. It’s still relatively new, but most of the latest smartphones come with this feature pre-installed. To check your phone, go to settings and look for the switch that turns NFC off and on.
How to use it
Millions of restaurants and retailers worldwide have contactless terminals. You may also already have a mobile payment app, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay on your phone. If you don’t, you can easily download them for free. Then add your compatible cards by manually entering the information or scanning the card. When it’s time to pay, simply unlock your device, open the app and tap it on the terminal.
Tap-to-pay technology makes shopping quick and easy. You won’t be carrying around a stack of cards, nor will you need to rummage through your bag to find the right one. All your information is safely secured behind the phone’s lock screen, and there are multiple layers of security to help prevent fraud.
If you’re hesitant to try contactless payments with your phone, we hope this explains it’s not as complicated or scary as you might have thought. In fact, tap-to-pay technology is probably already in your pocket. And once you’ve try it, you may never want to swipe again.