Mobile Wallets Aren’t the Wave of the Future…Yet.

The ability to walk through a store, place items in your cart, and walk straight out the door might seem like the stuff of a science fiction novel…or maybe a crime novel! But the reality of mobile wallet payment is a lot closer to that scenario than some consumers might realize.

Experts have pointed to things like data breaches and cybersecurity as the main reasons why more people haven’t jumped on board with mobile wallets. But new information coupled with some best practices information shows that mobile wallets are not only comparatively safe, but they’re also on the rise due to increased convenience. Mobile payments are expected to reach more than $280 billion annually by 2021.

There are some ways to keep your mobile wallet safe:

1. Encryption – When you open your wallet and take out a credit card, it’s actually briefly visible to people around you. Once you swipe the magnetic strip, you’re also at the mercy of any Point of Sale (POS) skimming, employees who copy the card, or other methods of data theft. 

A mobile payment app, on the other hand, never transmits your actual card number. Instead, encrypted information is relayed between the device and the payment processor, authorizing the payment and communicating the purchase with your financial institution. No actual card numbers or account numbers ever change hands. 

2. Security – In order to use your payment app, you must login with your password, supply your fingerprint on the touch sensor on your device, or other means of authentication. In some instances, you can set up your wallet so that you have to receive a text message with a one-time use PIN that you enter on the payment screen at the register. This prevents anyone who finds or steals your device from accessing your funds. 

3. Convenience – Those customer loyalty programs that give you hang tags for your keychain can be connected to a number of mobile payment options. Your points are automatically added to your account with each purchase, and you can use your points the same way. And remember that imaginary shopping trip where you just walk out the door without waiting at the checkout? Turns out, that’s not imaginary after all. More and more stores are accepting mobile payments, and are even developing separate checkout lanes to get you out the door faster. Some stores are even experimenting with the option to “purchase” each item as you put it in your cart, so your shopping is done the moment you finish walking the aisles.

There are still some concerns about mobile wallets, namely that you’re sharing your information with your financial institution. While most banks know where or when you shopped with their credit card or debit card, the faster checkout process would mean actually sharing the products you buy and the brands you prefer. Most terms and conditions allow the company to use your information for advertising purposes, so that’s something you might want to take into consideration.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: Be Alert - The Equifax Breach Is Just the Beginning

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