Mobile Payments
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Leaving the wallet at home and using a smartphone to pay for all of our purchases sounds like an enticing idea – well, to some of us anyway. But we still have some time to wait before that dream can become a reality, according to one writer who made a purchase with her phone everyday for a week.

Engadget’s Nicole Lee used both Apple Pay and Google Wallet in tandem, first using her iPhone 6 to pay for things like groceries and a hot dog at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Then she tried using Google Wallet on a Samsung Galaxy S5, as well as a credit card, in the same locations for consistency’s sake.

Even though Lee is based in San Francisco, a city known for embracing early innovations in tech, she cited the usual problems that analysts have given for a lack of mobile payment adoption – not enough partnerships with retailers. In the U.S., at least, just 2.4 per cent of retailers can accept mobile payments, and as Lee found, even retailers that do accept mobile payments can still experience glitches.

There’s also the problem of convincing consumers that mobile payments are the way to go, rather than using their good old-fashioned debit and credit cards. It’s not really enough to tell people using mobile payments is a cool, techy kind of thing – they need to be convinced mobile payments are more useful than their current methods of payment. And in the U.S., at stores like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, mobile payments users still need to sign for purchases over a certain amount, so that takes away a little bit from the convenience argument.

Then of course, there’s the issue of fragmentation, as Lee points out. Rite Aid and CVS launched their own mobile payments system, using QR codes to close transactions.

And then here in Canada, while more Canadian retailers can accept mobile payments, as many terminals use chip and pin technology, neither Google Wallet nor Apple Pay are available in Canada.

Still, there’s something very “freeing” about using a phone to quickly pay for a transaction, and there is the argument that merchants never get access to a credit card number through mobile payments – making transactions a lot more secure and potentially preventing data breaches at the point-of-sale terminals.

In any case, it may be some time before more merchants and retailers get on board with mobile payments – and before we can leave our credit cards at home for good.