AH Tech Talk: Wireless Payments Look to Advance via Credit Cards

Google Wallet, Softcard, Apple and Android Pay, as well as any number of touch-free payment methods have appeared, flourished, and disappeared over the past five years.  Google's NFC-based payment system, which launched with the Samsung Nexus S back in 2010, was one of the first to offer people who wanted to be at the bleeding edge of technological advancement the chance to show off the future, when buying a pack of gum or the week's groceries.  Since then, NFC has become an expected feature on many Android smartphones, as well as making its early forays into the world of Apple's iPhone and Apple Watch.  And, according to Visa out of Europe, the swipe-less payments will only increase.

As with any new development in technology, there are early adopters, like those that actively sought out Wallet payment terminals in 2010, and we have those who have more slowly moved towards a somewhat inevitable feature, if not future.  Wireless payments from a smartphone or smartwatch are fine and dandy, just ask the manufacturer(s), but wireless credit cards are apparently on the rise in Europe.  Visa reported some data for its cardholders a few days ago, and it let the public know that contactless is in fact a popular means of paying for things.  The Visa cards in question now feature a wireless chip that allows the owner to wave it over an enabled payment terminal, enter the PIN for the card, and be on their way.  But the leader of the transition to the wireless wallet might surprise you, or it might not.

The United Kingdom was, according to Visa's report, currently houses 49.6 million of the currently-active 130 million (give or take a few, obviously) wireless-enabled cards, and can use those cards to pay at any of the 410,000 wireless-enabled terminals.  A few months ago, in March, Visa reports that those 410,000 terminals and 49.6 million cards were used to make 52.6 million payments, with just the necessary wave and PIN entry.  Now, that doesn't even account for the advent of Barclays Bank's own contactless system, bPay, which allows cardholders to use a wristband, key fob, or sticker to pay with a tap, no phone or cash needed.  Apple Pay's continuing rollout looks to do very much the same, as well as Google's Wallet and Android Pay, especially given each platform's service depends wholly on which device buys possess, and if they're willing to trust their bank or OS developer more.

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Phil Bourget

Staff Writer
Using Android since 2012 and the Galaxy S III, I'm now running a Nexus 5 paired to a Moto 360 to keep updated on the Internet of stuff. Usually found on Google+ or in class.
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