The concept of contactless pay has by now become somewhat familiar. Nearly all new credit and debit cards feature at least the option, if it isn’t already included as standard. Security concerns regarding this method of payment aside, many people find it more convenient than a pin or signature. Noticing this trend, Apple has for the past year also offered users of their products to pay for goods and services with an app on their phones as well, and now it seems Android will soon be offering that same service.
While it’s doubtful they wanted plans to that effect revealed at large, leaked photos from popular coffee chain Pret a Manger showing “We now accept Android Pay” tags have revealed that the unveiling of Android Pay may be coming sooner than we think. Google’s official sources have remained unhelpfully cryptic about an exact release date; however latest spokespersons have affirmed that the launch of Android Pay could see the light of day within as little as a few months.
Pay by phone apps allow users to upload their bank and credit card information to the programme of their choice, after which payment can be done instantaneously with the merest tap of the phone against a contactless terminal.
We’d like to paraphrase Mr Benjamin Franklin on this one “They who sacrifice a little security for the sake of mere idleness deserve neither and shall lose both”.
While the convenience of contactless pay cannot be refuted, at the same time the whole point of pin numbers and counter signatures is that they help prevent credit and debit cards from being stolen. Yes, it’s a pain if you confuse the pins of your cards and what have you, but at least you know that your card is protected. An app with your bank details can be hacked, however, unless the app carries some very heavy encryption software with it to stop third parties from buying things with your money. Further, the whole point of following Apple with phone-based payments seems rather dodgy. Has anyone ever really thought to themselves, “No, we shan’t take money, we’ll take our phones instead”? Is it really any more effort to whip out a contactless card or some cash than it is to whip out a phone?
It should also be pointed out that even contactless card payments aren’t universally supported everywhere either. So could it be said that Apple (and now Android) are rather jumping the gun here?