Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are all mobile payment tools utilizing near field communications (NFC) technology. NFC has been around since the early 2000s but up until the last few years it hasn’t been a common way to make a payment. The adoption of chip based (EMV) credit and debit cards in the U.S. has forced most merchants to upgrade their payment acceptance hardware to allow for chip payments. In doing so, NFC capable devices became a lot more prevalent in the marketplace. Today, in the U.S., you can pay with a smartphone or smartwatch at most major retailers and at approximately half of all small businesses.

The mobile wallets behind Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay safeguard your payment information when you complete a transaction by utilizing a unique card ID every time. By doing this, it makes that card information useless to a thief or hacker as that card number was only good for that one transaction. This level of protection is a main driving force behind why consumers are using mobile payments more often. Secondly, not having to search for a card in your wallet or purse makes the payment transaction a lot more convenient.

In Europe, mobile payments have become much more common because public transportation systems are utilizing NFC based smartphone wallets for fares. Passengers who use smartphone wallets eliminate the need for paper or plastic cards and can add money to their public transportation wallet, for the system that they are utilizing, right through their phone instead of on a machine at each subway or train stop. As this type of technology comes to major cities in the U.S., there will likely be a significant increase in the use of mobile payments compared to taking out a physical card. It should also help reduce the overall operating costs for our various public transportation systems.

By combining technology with real world systems, mobile payments will make soon make transactions like riding the subway easier and help ensure consumer credit and debit card safety. This win-win scenario is a sign of things to come and a boon for business and consumers.