What is mobile payment? A novice’s guide to life on the move

Check the latest football scores, the weather at your holiday destination, or record some expenses. You can do them all at the flick of a thumb thanks to advancing app development. (We should know; Solo Expenses expense management software has been leading the revolution for a decade and a half). But when it comes to paying for things with a mobile, we detect that there can be a little resistance. Here we look at why, and try to put some fears to rest.

We tend to be distrustful of things we don’t fully understand, like tax returns, household plumbing and electrical wiring.

Sure, they can be our servants (well, two out of three’s not too bad), but there’s always something of a black art, or smoke and mirrors about how they work.

Making payments with a phone drops into that category, and well it might. How many of us have any clue to how tapping on the screen of a tiny computer can allow us to talk to someone on the other side of the world, or even watch them on the screen?

And if that’s the case, then the way we can transfer money is surely electronic alchemy, isn’t it? Let’s blow away some of the smoke, and shine a light into the darker corners of fears over mobile payment…

What is mobile payment?: The ability to pay for low-value items using bank details stored in your smartphone. It’s the same technology as using a contactless credit or debit card; the technology is stored inside the phone rather than on a chip in a little plastic rectangle.

It’s not secure: Actually, it is. The transfer of funds from your account to the merchant’s is triggered by your own touch ID, which is much more secure than a pin number. What’s more, it’s more convenient because what you need is in your phone, and there’s every chance it’s already in your hand. You might care to debate that we are too wedded to our mobile devices these days, but the fact is that we are, and not having to fumble in a purse or pocket for cards or cash is faster and easier.

Locked in: Lose a wallet, and the cash is likely to evaporate immediately. Consider it gone. Credit or debit cards can be used on line; all the data a thief needs is there; the account name and long card number, plus the CSV number on the back. Lose your phone, and without your fingerprint or pin number, the data within it, including your back account details, it remains locked and therefore secure, no matter where your phone happens to be.

Confidential data could be ‘farmed’ by other people nearby: Not really an issue. When buying something with your mobile ‘wallet’ you’re using something called ‘near field communication’.  It’s a tiny and restricted wireless link through which small amounts of data can be transferred when two devices are held close together. The code that makes it possible is a one-off; once you’ve paid for your coffee, or your newspaper, or whatever, the code ceases to have any value to anyone, even you.

It can’t be used everywhere: That’s true – at the moment. But the numbers of people using smartphones is increasing exponentially. Cisco estimates that almost 430 million mobile devices and connections were added in 2016, taking the number of global users to an eye-watering eight billion. Within that, almost half are smart devices, and they’re responsible for almost 90% of mobile data traffic. For any retailer, that’s too large a market to ignore. Jamie Zielonko, Senior Account Executive with idea cultivation factory FARM, agrees. He says: “Overall, we do not foresee the mobile payment trend going away; instead, indications are that it will only increase with each passing year. Some bank and retail clients are struggling with the decision to upgrade their equipment. However, the sooner they embrace the new technology, the better position they’ll be in to make the shift to a new era.” That pretty much sums it up.

Security increases: Who knew? Think outside the box a little. Mobile payment currently works for relatively small amounts of money; the kind of transactions which could involve cash. Using mobile payment rather than going to the hole in the wall saves time in looking for a cash machine, and also takes you away from the danger of having your card skimmed at a machine that’s been tampered with.

What if the phone battery dies?: Well, you’re stumped. But why should that be an issue? The fear of running out of petrol doesn’t stop anyone driving; it’s just a matter of getting organised. But if your life is too much a shambles to remember to charge your phone (and we guess for some it must be), then invest in one of those handy portable charging devices, which will soon have you up and running. Oh, and don’t forget the charge lead.

It’s hard to keep track of payments: We can understand that. That’s why you should use your mobile payment option (and there are a number to pick from, like apple Pay and Google Wallet to name but two) alongside Solo Expenses expense management software. It’s free to download for personal use here, and does away with the need to keep all those fiddly little paper till receipts. Solo Expenses can sit on your phone alongside your preferred payment app, and you can add in the detail of your sending as you go. The phone’s already in your hand; how hard could it be?

And finally: It’s not so long ago that we would never have imagined taking a picture with a phone. But times change. Technology changes. And it’ll do that with or without you. Our advice is to embrace change, and find out how much more simple your life could become as a result.

Picture: Alexander Kirch | Dreamstime