Paying for merchandise or services in a store via mobile phone. A smartphone wallet app either holds prepaid funds or works like a credit card, and various authentication methods may be employed. As of 2018, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are the major payments services in the U.S. See Apple Pay
, Google Pay
and Samsung Pay
The "Next Big Thing"
When the Internet exploded in the 1990s, a variety of Web-based payments systems were developed; however, except for PayPal, most were abandoned. The distinct advantage of smartphones is that people generally have them while shopping, and built-in fingerprint readers add a significant level of security.
The primary technology used in mobile payments is near field communication (NFC), which allows a person to pass the phone over a terminal to quickly pay for merchandise. Many Android phones included NFC, and Apple finally added it with the iPhone 6. Barcodes can also be displayed on the phone and scanned by the merchant's terminal or vice versa. See NFC
Like any "next big thing," mobile payments had to overcome the chicken-egg conundrum. The more retailers adopt a system, the more people use it, and the more people use it, the more merchants come on board. To fully embrace mobile payments, retail outlets have to support multiple systems. See mobile check deposit
, Web payment service
, digital wallet
and smartphone wallet
The Three Majors
Apple Pay, Google Pay (G Pay) and Samsung Pay are the major players in the mobile payment field.