Mobile Payments Q&A

Mobile payments may seem like new technology, but the first opportunity to make purchases using a mobile phone actually dates all the way back to buying Coca-Cola via text message in 1997! Since then, alternate avenues to make purchases has grown steadily, from PayPal’s 1998 founding to the launch of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay (in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively). Mobile payment usage shows no signs of slowing down; in fact, it’s on a trajectory to grow 80 percent year-over-year between 2016 and 2020!

So, let’s answer the most commonly asked mobile payment questions:

  • What are mobile payments?

Simply put, mobile payments allow you to make in-person purchases using your smartphone instead of cash, credit or debit cards, or checks. All you have to do is link your physical debit or credit card or bank account to your mobile app and the payment will be deducted from, or charged to, the linked account.


  • Is it safe to use?

Absolutely! In fact, some people find it more secure than cash, debit or credit cards that can be misplaced or stolen. Mobile payments use the very latest technology, including advanced encryption and even “tokenization” (a fancy way of saying your card number is never transmitted or even stored; a unique “token” not affiliated with your account is used instead).


  • Do all stores accept mobile payments?

While not all retailers currently accept mobile payments, the number of those that do is steadily growing. Major retailers like Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Trader Joe’s, and others are most likely to participate, but small businesses are also jumping on the mobile payment wagon. Statistics indicate that as of October 2017, 12 percent of small businesses accept mobile payments. Still, it’s always better to err on the safe side and either call ahead to check, or bring an alternative form of payment.


  • How do you make a purchase?

For such advanced technology, making a mobile payment is quite simple! First, you have to link the account you want to use in the app on your phone. Once you set this up, most require some kind of security confirmation of your identity (like a fingerprint or passcode). Then all you have to do is tap your phone against the point of sale terminal for a few seconds while the payment is transmitted—and that’s it!


  • Are there any fees or limits?

Some retailers do charge a nominal fee or may limit the number of mobile payment transactions you can make within a given time. These vary, so it’s always best to ask each retailer individually.


  • How can I check my purchases?

Mobile purchases will show up on your statement the same way any other purchase appears. If you see an error in amounts or payments you didn’t make, contact your financial institution immediately.

Want to know more about mobile payments? Visit Suffolk Federal’s Financial Empowerment: Online Workshop and begin the Mobile Payments module to get started.


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