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Armor for Your Mobile Wallet

The battle between Apple Pay and Current C is about to intensify as more shoppers start to use the mobile wallet functions in their smartphones and devices. We believe Apple Pay has better security, giving you more armor for your iPhone’s commercial capabilities.

The heavy-duty armor, as far as we are concerned, is the two-factor authentication that’s part of the Apple Pay system. The system keeps your credit card information separate from the transaction, and you need a fingerprint to complete the transaction. So, if somebody steals your iPhone, they’ll also need to cut off the finger with the print you’ve registered as your “signature.”

The banks and financial companies who back various credit cards have bought into Apple Pay, too, and it would likely behoove many merchants to go along with the idea. Banks and credit card companies are moving to the EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) system that replaces the magnetic stripe with a chip, and they are shedding their responsibility for covering fraudulent charges. That responsibility will shift to the merchants.

The security benefits are enhanced by Apple Pay’s ease of use with Near Field Communication (NFC). A post on Tech Radar gives you a simple explanation, but we’ll simplify it a little more for those who don’t want to click through.

It’s a short-range, low power wireless link that essentially uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology (think EZ Pass) to transfer small amounts of data between two devices just a few inches apart. It doesn’t need any pairing code as with Bluetooth, and it’s so low-power, it doesn’t need a battery in the device being read. Tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or coffee shop identifies your account and takes payment through the app on your phone.

Your phone’s SIM card is a smart card that identified your phone to a network, and phones besides iPhones have NFC capability.

We have some issues with one of Apple Pay’s major competitors, Current C. I don’t think it’s as easy to use, but more important, the system collects a lot of personal information, and it has been hacked. Current C, as we understand it, is linked to a consumer’s checking account, and we don’t use debit cards because of the risk associated with debit card security issues.

We also don’t like the customer-data collection aspects of Current C. It functions like a loyalty program, and we should all have the choice of deciding if we want to be part of any merchant’s loyalty program.

Finally, Current C is more cumbersome to use. You need to log in and pull up a QR code that the store reads. With Apple Pay, you just hold your phone close enough to the reader for it to read your fingerprint.

We think the finger is just scratching the surface. Because fingerprints are unique – even with identical twins – mobile wallets using the Apple Pay principles can spread to boarding passes, door locks or anything else requiring accurate identification.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and start a conversation. And if you have any questions about setting up an Apple Pay account on your iPhone, we’d be happy to help. A phone call – 973-433-6676 – or an email will get it started.