Monday, October 27, 2014

READ: JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT MOBILE PAYMENTS WERE ABOUT TO GET EASIER

There was much excitement a few weeks ago when Apple announced that they were launching an NFC payment service called Apple Pay which would allow users of their latest model iPhones to make in-store purchases using their mobile devices. Of course some, including me, pointed out that many Android users had been able to do this using Google Wallet for quite some time, but even we were excited as the hype around Apple entering the space meant that adoption for NFC payments in general was likely to skyrocket. Alas, that may not be the case. Retailers don't like that they have to pay credit card companies a fee every time someone uses one in their stores, and as such have been busy working on their own mobile payment service called CurrentC. Now, how would this save them from paying those fees, since a proper mobile payment service works like a wallet, letting you store all of your cards and pay with whichever one you choose at checkout? Well, CurrentC does not let you do that. Instead, it takes a direct debit from your bank account, with only a handful of store credit cards expected to be supported, severely restricting your options for how you would like to pay for something. Okay, you may be saying, but if it's an NFC service, they still have to have NFC readers, so I should still be able to use Apple Pay or Google Wallet or my NFC enabled credit card right? That would be accurate, except CurrentC is NOT an NFC service, instead the app generates a QR code which displays on your phone that a clerk must then scan to enable payment. And to make matters worse, many retailers that already were accepting NFC payments are now shutting the readers down in order to force shoppers to use the new service, which doesn't even launch until some time next year. Since many of the nation's largest stores are involved in this scheme, this leaves us with 2 choices. We can either trust a service that is run by our nation's retailers with our bank account information, despite their repeated demonstrations of just how poorly they protect our data already. Or we can give up on the convenience of using our phones to pay for goods in stores and continue using regular, old, insecure credit cards to pay for things, which means the stores would still be paying the same fees, and would have invested tons of money into something that nobody uses. FULL STORY (AND OUTRAGED COMMENTS): THE VERGE