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With all that you can do on mobile these days, nothing surprises me anymore. After all… we do have our mobile phones within an arms distance from us 24 hours a day (Just FYI I do not fit into this category; I have a job and therefore can’t be around my phone for my 6 hour shifts). Mobile payments have been creeping up on me though. My dad and I started a business selling water bottles at farmers markets (I know… I know…. water bottles are so random), and we used to process credit card payments on our phone. Therefore I am very familiar with that side of mobile payments. What I’m not familiar with is the other side of mobile payments (For instance, going to get lunch at a burrito shop and paying with my mobile phone). The real question that I think intrigues me, is in what way will this make my life easier and after all, isn’t that the only way this mobile payment stuff will stick? Or maybe we are so enthralled with technology that just paying with a mobile phone is exciting enough in itself? Well in that case I would think that mobile payment will just be a short-lived fad but maybe just maybe the benefits will provide an incentive to use our mobile phone to pay for our lunch.

Google Wallet uses near-field communication chips which are built into certain phones operating systems. These chips will then communicate with credit card terminals at retail locations, swapping your payment information that you have entered when you set up your account. Retailers that use Google Wallet include: Walgreens, Macy’s, and Old Navy. Square has a retail app in which you can also upload your name and a picture of you, along with your credit card information so that when you buy something your name and picture come up and the retailer can check to make sure the picture is really you and then completes the sale. Okay so I’m confused… exactly which steps are simplified when mobile payment is used? If a sale is less than $25 you usually do not have to sign if you use a credit/debit card. So you are still reaching in your pocket and grabbing either your phone or your card. With a phone, however; you have to open the app and click a command, whereas with a card you can just pull the card out and swipe it. What if your phone is acting up? How in the heck is mobile payment any faster? And while I’m ragging on mobile payments, how is Square protecting your card from theft? In my opinion, I think Square’s use of the photo and name can make theft almost painless for the crook. If ya’ll didn’t know by now, I work as a waitress to pay my way through school (do NOT, seriously DO NOT, get me started on my waitress rants). Well I am now paranoid about giving waitresses my credit card to take and swipe because it is so easy for them to write down the credit card number, expiration date, and CVV code on the back. So if someone has all this information then it is easy for them to program this information into their phone but provide a picture of themselves. With this use of the picture, showing I.D. for large purchases becomes totally obsolete. But in what universe is this a good thing? I mean it just provides an incentive for crooks.

I’m also one of those people who likes personalized advertising and doesn’t find it annoying. I really am a shopper at heart, and so when I visit Sephora.com and look at some makeup and then visit another site and other makeup pops up on the side I usually do look at it. After all, advertisers then do the shopping for me practically. It’s really just a time saver. So the thought of businesses being able to collect more data on me and my personal habits through these payment apps, doesn’t bother me in the least bit. I don’t mind having a personalized coupon sent my way at all. But one thing to ask is: it really useful to the consumer, or are we just helping businesses do their job more effectively? Businesses get to collect valuable information on their customers, and avoid payment processing fees, therefore have more money and information to grow their business. And from the business owner’s perspective mobile payments are great. According to CUNA, more than half of US smartphone owners use their phone for at least some type of mobile payment. Which to me is just plain crazy, as for consumers it seems like such a hassle to pay with their smartphone rather than a plastic credit card.

Let’s run break apart some of the pros of mobile payment systems:
For consumers:
• Convenience- You don’t have to carry your credit cards around any longer. In my opinion not carrying a credit card around is not an inconvenience to me at all but perhaps to others it is. But what if you run out of battery on your phone and because you don’t have your credit card you can’t buy yourself some lunch.
• Security- You can password protect your information so if your phone is stolen or lost then your information is secure. But haven’t we all heard of hackers? It is not hard to hack through a password protected phone. So does a password really protect your credit card information? I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.
For businesses:
• User data- You can gather data from your customers and use this data to effectively grow your business. I will not argue with that one.
• Paperless Receipts- I suppose this could be a pro for consumers as well. Paper saves money and the environment so it just depends how much of a tree hugger you are. But really paperless receipts is something that was long ago used via email. These days’ retailers ask you if you want your receipt emailed or even texted to you to save paper. So maybe it makes it easier to automatically send a paperless receipt but it can’t be that much more convenient.
• Cost-As of now costs are cheaper as businesses can avoid payment processing fees but eventually carriers are going to want to get involved and will start charging hefty fees to merchants, which could end up costing the consumer .

To me it seems like almost all of the pros are cons. When I was reading about it there seemed to be controversial information on all the benefits and disadvantages of mobile payments. I’ll let you decide whether these are pros or cons of mobile payments. As I think everyone can offer their own perspective on what they consider a pro or con of mobile advertising. Leave a comment below and let me know what your opinion on mobile payment systems is.

Let’s see what consumers say about mobile payment systems:
• 77% say their biggest concern is security
• 6.9% say their biggest concern is battery life
• 6.4% say their biggest concern is how confusing it is to use
• 5.1% say their biggest concern is having not enough rewards or bonus features
• 4% say their biggest concern is the inability to track a budget

In the U.K. homeless are now accepting mobile payments with their new iZettle solution. A street newspaper, sold by the homeless, now accepts credit card payments because people don’t carry cash any longer. And if consumers trust their card details to homeless people because of the technology maybe we really don’t have anything to be worried about security-wise. I’ll let you decide that one for yourself. Just remember that if cash is becoming so obsolete that even homeless people aren’t messing around with it, then we really might be in trouble.

According to The-Ultimate Guide To Mobile Credit Card Processing Report, 40% of small to medium sized enterprises now accept payments with mobile credit card readers. And 16% of small to medium-sized enterprises plan to adopt mobile payment devices in the next 12 months. I think businesses are trying to jump on this fad as they see technological advances taking place in every aspect businesses and therefore they are not hesitant to jump on the bandwagon later learning that maybe it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. One thing is for sure, mobile payment services, are definitely not the best thing since sliced bread.

While I’m on this tangent about mobile payments, I want to talk a little bit about bitcoin. Bitcoin has been in existence since 2009 and isn’t controlled by any authority. The currency has been used on the black market, but is now being accepted by legitimate businesses all over the world. As long as the internet stays on, bitcoin will be there, as it’s the platonic currency. In fact a Seattle-based mobile grilled cheese truck just recently started accepting bitcoin. According to these cheese wizards, there has been two bitcoin sales per hour, which is much more than they expected. Heck that’s way more than I expected, so I could see why they would be surprised. According to CBC news, “once you move your money into the cloud why would you ever go back to putting your money in the bank?” All I had to read was that bitcoins might become a very useful tool for various illegal activities including child pornography, trafficking, and terrorism. And if that doesn’t scare you then I don’t know what will. Have you seen any signs in businesses that say they are now accepted bitcoins? Leave a comment and let me know. I sure haven’t!


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