Mobile Payments: The Good, the bad, and the Fugly

Screenshot_02

Mobile. Fucking. Payments. It’s all the rage these days. But don’t leave you wallet at home just yet.

Ever since Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and it’s support for mobile payments (Apple Pay), mobile payments have become a hot topic in the tech/consumer market. Let’s be clear about one thing people. Apple is no trend setter here. Mobile payments have been a thing for Android users since early 2012. Since the days of the second Google phone, the Nexus S. Like it or not though, now that Apple is on board with mobile payments, almost everyone else is now on board with mobile payments. It’s just the shitty world that we live in. Are mobile payments the future of brick and mortar commerce, or are they just another shitty tech fad that no one knows how to use? Maybe a little bit of both.

The three largest mobile payment services right now are probably Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and Verizon’s ISIS Softcard. Since ISIS is now synonymous with a terrorist organization, Verizon decided to re-brand their service as “Softcard”. It’s too bad, I thought their original name was quite fitting.

Screenshot_2014-10-28-17-28-20

Google Wallet for Android

Mobile payments are simple enough. Here is a quick example of how Google Wallet works. Wake your device. Hold your device near the payment terminal. Enter your PIN, and PRESTO! Like fucking magic, you have just paid for something with nothing more than your portable porn machine smartphone. No cash, no messy change (ewwww), no sorting through your massive credit card collection to find the card you are not overdrawn on. Mobile payments are just fucking perfect right?

Don’t leave home without it! Your credit cards and cash are still making the trip with you. Unless you know exactly where you are going, and you are absolutely sure they accept mobile payments. You still need to bring another form of payment. Because mobile payments are still not accepted pretty much anywhere other than large chains, and a few, trendy local business. So a true wallet replacement, it is not. Not yet at least. We still have a long way to go before that happens.

As I mentioned above. Finding a retailer that accepts mobile payments can be pain in the ass. Unless you frequent a particular establishment, you probably have no idea if they accept mobile payments or not. As of right now, about 1 in 50 retailers in the US accept mobile payments. About 6%, 222,000 of 3.7 million retail establishments. That number is sure to grow in the not so distant future, but today its pretty fucking weak.

MobilePayments_Image

Using mobile payments can also be kind of awkward. New technologies can sometimes present a distinct learning curve for the rest of society not yet in the know. It seems like every establishment uses a different POS (Point of Sale) system, the interface you interact with when paying for your purchase. It’s not always easy to tell if the system actually accepts mobile payments. So, you ask the kid behind the counter if they accept mobile payments. They have no idea what you are talking about. So you hover your phone over the terminal like a goon while the store clerk just blankly stares at you like you have fucking snakes coming out of your eyeballs. He ask’s you what you’re trying to do and you attempt to explain. He doesn’t get it, customers behind you are getting pissed for everything taking so long. Eventually, you fucking give up and whip out your credit card, everyone looses. The device looks like it could possibly accept mobile payments, but it doesn’t. If you can see a “tap to pay” logo, you should be ok, but I don’t think this is required for every setup. All I am saying is that it’s not always clearly obvious.

If you are the kind that is always worried about your security, getting robbed, or the store clerk seeing your credit card info. Mobile payments may be a good alternative for you. It is extremely secure and most services offer some form of fraud protection. But for me, the extra security is not worth the pain in my ass.

Today, cash is still king (accepted everywhere), with credit cards taking up the rear. You know why, because they just fucking work. Everywhere. In my opinion (IMO for the kids), mobile payments seem like a self enforced novelty. Using it just for the sake of being different. Which is fine, it’s just not practical for me personally. Mobile payments need sometime to mature. Once they do, we will wonder how we ever lived without them. But today, mobile payments are a very cool and promising technology that will remain in my pocket.

  • ziPRR

    I once used Softcard (ISIS at the time) to pay for McDonalds… the cashier looked at me like I was a goddamned magician, lol.

  • Dwija Kotagi

    Safety/security on credit cards is old school. You max liability is $50 + some inconvenience.

    Your purchase history is worth more than your credit card limit (unless your have of those Amex black). Why in the world would I want google (or apple) to know of all my p**n purchases??