The proliferation of contactless payment options shifts how businesses interact with customers at the moment of purchase, from international retailers to local pop-up shops. But there’s no need to fret just yet if you enjoy buying stuff with cold, hard cash. Plastic cards are first on the chopping block.
“I’d suggest that the time is ripe to plan for plastic (and metal) cards to be sent to Shady Pines Retirement Home for the Tragically Overstayed Welcome,” wrote Nick Holland, global head of insights and networks at Money 20/20. During the group’s 2022 conference in October in Las Vegas, financial technology companies touting efficiency and seamless experiences were front and center, as plastic cards faded into the background.
Anyone who is on the fence about using their smartphone for contactless payments should check out Whitson Gordon’s case for adopting the technology. Convinced and need guidance setting up Apple Pay or Google Wallet? Apple and Google offer step-by-step instructions to guide you through that initial setup. After you link your cards to the mobile device and practice the necessary steps to complete purchases, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of smartphone wallets.
Don’t Forget About Phone-to-Phone Payments
You may be comfortable tapping your phone against a checkout terminal, but it might feel like a surprise the first time a business asks you to tap your phone to their phone. Smaller merchants, delivery companies, and take-out restaurants may continue to forgo traditional card terminals altogether as companies like Mastercard and Visa introduce features that use near-field communication chip technology to enable phone-to-phone payments. Similar to the lightning port on the iPhone, the era of credit card readers plugged into smartphones is likely to come to an end.
Make Use of Virtual Card Numbers
Always look to see what your options are when it comes to virtual card numbers. For example, if you choose to get an Apple Card on your iPhone and the number leaks, it can be changed with just a couple of taps. Open your Wallet and tap on the Apple Card. In the top-right corner, select the card icon and choose the button that reads Request New Card Number. Virtual card numbers are not only useful for smartphone payments. Google added the option to use the security feature easily in your web browser.
Add More Than Just Payment Methods
Your debit card and credit card are likely the very first items you connect to your digital wallet. It doesn’t need to stop there! From boarding passes to proof-of-vaccine cards, digital wallets can hold so much more than just payments. It’s even possible to connect your health insurance card for easy access. (The main aspect of a physical wallet that a digital one can never replicate is providing me with a secret receptacle to hoard ancient receipts and scraps of paper.)
Keep a Little Cash on Hand
Even if you choose to use your mobile device instead of a plastic card for most in-person transactions, it still makes sense to keep a few dollar bills in your wallet. Just in case. Your smartphone might get wet and stop functioning. Also, not every store is set up to accept Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Some retailers even offer a small discount to customers who pay with cash.