When it comes to wireless payments or tap-to-pay as it’s more commonly referred as, has received somewhat of a lukewarm reception here in the United States. Its obvious success in some locations and simultaneous failure in others is largely dependent on where one lives and how well it’s supported by any given merchant or financial institution. Making matters worse is that the United States has been woefully slow in adopting better and proven security methods when it comes to protecting credit cards and transactions. While the rest of the world has forged on with the chip and pin system the United States continues to hang on to nothing more than the outdated and easily compromised magnetic strips and signature setup as a means of owner verification.
Fortunately, over the past 3+ years or so technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Blackberry (aka RIM at the time) and Nokia have made some strides into this area by adding support for NFC chips in devices using each companies respective mobile operating systems. At the same time these efforts have remained hampered by the overall continued lack of support by merchants and financial institutions, NFC standards that weren’t universally accepted yet and a lack of any “real” security. What is used for security are secure channels that apparently aren’t enforced at the moment. So it is left to the user to check that the places they do business with do in fact use secure channels for NFC transactions.
Fast forward to today and Apple revealed last month at their September iPhone event that they are also throwing their hat into the NFC ring with the introduction of Apple Pay for the iPhone. Apply Pay is not some proprietary payment system. It uses the same NFC protocols and standards that all the other companies use. What Apple has done differently than other companies merely adding support for NFC is add an extra layer of security to the authentication of transactions by incorporating their Touch ID system. They have also taken the more proactive route by pitching their idea first to get as many major banking institutions as possible onboard before launching the actual product. By taking a more aggressive role verses a passive one both the consumer and merchants are more likely to end up in a win win situation. Only time will tell how this all plays out. I just wish the U.S. wasn’t so slow in protecting consumers.