One of the more recent convenient uses for mobile devices is what’s known as a “mobile wallet,” or a stored payment method that lets you pay at a store register with your device instead of a credit card or debit card.
There are already a variety of companies offering this feature to their customers, like Google Wallet and Apple Pay, and reports have shown that more and more consumers are taking advantage of this option. Using your smartphone to pay for your purchases might make some people a little skeptical, and for good reason. It’s healthy to look at any new tool or unproven innovation and take time to evaluate its security and its potential for damage to your identity.
But experts have come out with an interesting take on this form of payment, and that’s basically to say that it’s no more risky than using a credit card and may even be safer than traditional credit cards. This method still requires a unique PIN number generated for each transaction and you can password protect your payment app. In addition, mobile payment data is transferred in the form of a “token” which then becomes meaningless once the transaction is complete. You’re possibly even more likely to be protective of this payment method due to the fact that it’s tied up in your expensive, can’t-go-anywhere-without-it device.
Even better than just letting you pay for your items, Apple and Walgreens have announced that the mobile wallet system will now also keep track of your Walgreens Balance Rewards card, giving you yet another step to eliminate at the register. When you make your Walgreens purchases with your Apple Pay-enabled smartphone or Apple Watch, your rewards points will be calculated and automatically added to your account. This means the largest pharmacy chain in the country just became the first US retailer in any industry to link its rewards program to the payment app.
There are few things to keep in mind about this type of payment system, though. If you’re going to connect a credit card to your phone, it’s critical that you enable the passcode feature on the phone itself to help keep outsiders from accessing what you’ve got stored, in the event your device is lost or stolen; a two-step authentication—like using a passcode to get into the phone and another one to access the payment app—is even better. If you have the option to receive an emailed receipt for every mobile wallet transaction, then do it… the added layer of security will tell you immediately if someone is using your mobile payment app.