Time for retailers to embrace contactless payments

Launch of Android Pay in Ireland makes for more convenient and secure shopping

Google may be first out of the gate with its Android Pay, but Apple and Samsung, with their respective products, can’t be far behind

Google may be first out of the gate with its Android Pay, but Apple and Samsung, with their respective products, can’t be far behind

 

Google has beaten Apple to the punch on mobile payments – in Ireland at least. The company’s Android Pay, a digital wallet that allows you to pay on your credit or debit card through your mobile phone, has gone live in Ireland.

The idea is that payments can be quick and convenient, through the one device that most of us carry – a mobile phone.

But not just any mobile phone; Android Pay needs an NFC (near-field communication)-enabled phone running Android 4.4 or later to work. That covers a lot of the handsets out there, to be fair, and not just at the premium end of the market.

The technology works at any contactless terminal that currently accepts cards, and it gets around the €30 spending limit that is imposed on contactless users. Under €30 and the transaction can be completed without unlocking the phone; over €30 and you’ll have to unlock the phone with your chosen security method.

First out of the gate

From a consumer point of view, not only is it more convenient than a card or cash payment, but it’s also a bit more secure than a plastic card. The retailer never gets your card number, but is instead given a unique “virtual” number each time you complete a transaction.

Google may be first out of the gate, but Apple and Samsung, with their respective products, can’t be far behind.

What may be a bit of a barrier to its adoption is the attitude of retailers. Despite contactless payments beginning to pick up pace in popularity, there are still plenty of shops that haven’t introduced the technology.

Even more damaging to cashless payments are retailers who accept contactless cards but impose a minimum spend on customers – €5 or €10 before they’ll take a card.

What consumers should realise is that imposing such limits not only runs counter to the point of contactless payments – eliminating cash for small purchases – but it also breaks the agreement that retailers have with their card acquirer.

Shops can, of course, refuse to accept cards at all to avoid being hit with extra charges. But as more and more consumers adopt contactless payments, there would be an element of cutting off their noses to spite their faces about it all.

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