The Mobile Wallet Showdown: What’s Your Pick?

NFC technology has gained some strength in the mobile wallet arena since Apple released Apple Pay in October 2014 in USA. AppleWatch was released in April, and it supports Apple Pay when paired with an iPhone.

Globally, not only was Apple Pay launched in the UK in July 14, 2015, it also took a step into the Chinese market on June 10 by registering as an entity in the Shanghai free-trade zone. With Alipay, Apple’s main competitor in this market, already clocking over 400 million registered users, one wonders how the race will pan out between the two.

Android Pay, a successor of Google Pay was rolled out a couple of days ago. As of today, it has been downloaded over 81k times, and currently has a 3.9 star rating. Android Pay works on smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat or newer.

Samsung Pay was released in Korea last month, and has hit 500,000 users now. It will be released in the USA on Sep 28th. Samsung’s smartwatch, Gear S2, will support Samsung Pay in November. Samsung has also formed partnerships in the US and China.

What NFC mobile wallet are you using or will you use?

Seattle folks, join us for a discussion on Mobile Payment on September 24th http://bit.ly/1LHi8Dz

About the Author: 

Hsuan-hua Chang, a mobile technology strategist and business coach,  has over 20 years of experience in wireless technology, holding many corporate positions ranging from software engineer, technical architect to product marketing manager. She is the author of “Everyday NFC Second Edition: Near Field Communication Explained” http://amzn.to/1INl703

Read more of her posts at http://bit.ly/1DG2af1mobile wallet

NFC Mobile Payment options: HCE vs SE

When Google made Hosted Card Emulation (HCE) available for its mobile payment in order to bypass telecoms’ control, the debate of HCE and Secure Element (SE) continues.

A webinar “Evaluating NFC security strategies: The role of the secure element in the evolving landscape” was hosted by NFC World on January 20, 2015.

A few highlights of the webinar is as follows:

  • The NFC adoption rate is increasing rapidly based on the stats of NFC SIM shipped; 16M shipped in 2011, 30M in 2012, and 72M in 2013.
  • Geographic stats show the demand in different regions. In 2013, 37M was shipped to Japan/Korea, 24M to North America and 14M to Europe.
  • The pros and cons analysis of HCE and SE technology.
  • A SIMalliance recommended deployment model based on security and market reach, application and technology requirements.
  • A case study on Canada’s success as the #1 mobile payment country in the world. Some stats are as follows: All of Canada’s major MNOs now offer SE based NFC payment capability to their customer; 2/3 of the phones are Android and BlackBerry; 5 of Canada’s “Big Six” Financial Institutions do the same; over 84% major retail merchants have contactless EMV terminals

SIMalliance anticipates a future where SE and HCE will continue to co-exist and in many cases converge. This will be the basis of an optimally efficient and secure NFC ecosystem.

To watch the free seminar, click the link.

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Using Apple Pay the First Time

On 10/20/2014, Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile wallet,  became available on iPhone 6 and 6+. I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

To use Apple Pay, iPhone consumer needs to do two things:

  • Add a credit card / debit card into the Passbook
  • Download iOS 8.1

Apple Pay is integrated into the Passbook through iOS 8.1; there is no need to download an app. When you add your card to Passbook, a unique Device Account Number (DAN) is assigned to it. DAN is encrypted and stored in the Secure Element (SE), a dedicated chip in iPhone. DAN is used in payment process instead of your actual card number.

When you are ready to use Apple Pay:

  1. Place your finger on Touch ID

  2. Point your iPhone6 at the contactless reader

NFC (Near Field Communication) enables this contactless payment. The Device Account Number, along with a transaction-specific dynamic security code, is used to process the payment. Your actual card number is not shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted during the payment. Apple doesn’t store any of the details of the transaction. This security protects the consumer.

The steps I took to use Apple Pay were as follows:

  • Downloaded iOS 8.1 by going to Settings, General, Software Update.

  • Configured my iPhone 6 as instructed after downloading was completed.

  • Clicked on the Passbook app.

  • Clicked on the + sign on the top right corner to add my business VISA from Alaska Airlines.

  • Used camera to read my card and typed in Expiration data & security code. iPhone 6 showed “Verifying Card” a few seconds and returned “Your Issuer Doesn’t Not Yet Offer Support for This Card”.

  • Added my America Express Card successfully and saw the recent purchase history at Costco since September. That surprised me.

  • Added my personal VISA from Alaska Airlines successfully.

  • Went to Wholefoods and used Apple Pay for my purchase. Since Touch ID had trouble reading my fingerprint; the passcode screen was displayed that enabled me to enter my passcode.

  • Apparently VISA from Alaska Airlines is my default card. The purchase history at Wholefoods is accessible from the phone (see attached picture) and Bank of America also sent me notification of the purchase.

  • Removed my America Express from the Passbook and was sent a notification that read: “Your Default Card Has Been Changed to “BofA Visa Credit”. That is a minor bug since BofA Visa was my default card, wasn’t it?

In general, Apple Pay is easy to use. I think NFC will be promoted through Apple Pay’s good user experience and tapping will become a habit soon. Job well done! Apple.


How to Use Your Mobile Wallet

Last week, two of my friends asked me “What is Mobile Wallet?”. I realized that I need to put aside my excitement over NFC-enabled iPhone6 and just explain the basics in plain English.

A mobile wallet enables you to use your mobile phone for making payments while shopping. Your credit card information is entered and saved in your mobile phone. To simplify the story, I will only focus on two NFC Mobile Wallets: Softcard and Apple Pay.

A mobile wallet is composed of a few components: a mobile application (app), payment options (credit cards), an authentication method for user identification, and an option for wireless transmission.

  • Mobile app: You can download Softcard (formally ISIS Mobile Wallet) from the Google Play Store if you have an NFC-enabled Android phone. If you have an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus or iWatch, you can download Apple Pay app from the Apple Store on October 20th, 2014.
  • Payment options: The mobile app allows you add credit card information into a mobile wallet.
  • Authentication: Softcard requires you to enter a 4-digit pin upon payment. Apple Pay uses Touch ID, a finger print identity sensor.
  • Wireless Transmission: NFC (Near Field Communication) is used for both Softcard and Apple Pay. Any NFC-enabled phones such as most of the Android phones and the iPhone 6, can tap an NFC-enabled reader to activate wireless communication between a mobile phone and a cash register that is NFC-enabled.

To Use Softcard (formally ISIS) Mobile Wallet on an Android Phone

  1. Make sure that the NFC functionality is enabled on the device.
  2. Ensure your device is equipped with the required Enhanced NFC SIM card with Secure Element.
  3. Download Softcard Mobile Wallet app from Google Play Store.
  4. Set up an access PIN.
  5. Add the method of payment.
  6. Use the NFC device to pay your bill at stores that have NFC readers.
  • Open the Softcard Mobile Wallet app and enter your PIN.
  • Select a payment card to use.
  • Hold the back of your phone over the contactless symbol on the terminal at checkout.

To Use Apple Pay Mobile Wallet on an iPhone6

  1. If you don’t have Passbook setup, add the credit or debit card from your iTunes account to Passbook by simply entering the card security code.
  2. Add a new card, use your iSight camera to instantly capture your card information or simply type it in manually.
  3. The first card you add automatically becomes your default card.
  4. Download iOS 8.1
  5. Use iPhone to pay your bill at stores that have NFC readers

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With NFC mobile wallet, you don’t need to carry your credit cards around anymore. It is a safer approach since every transaction has a unique transaction ID and it’s authenticated. Apple Pay seems providing a simpler user experience based on Apple’s website. “One touch to pay with Touch ID. Now paying in stores happens in one natural motion — there’s no need to open an app or even wake your display thanks to the innovative Near Field Communication antenna in iPhone 6. To pay, just hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID. You don’t even have to look at the screen to know your payment information was successfully sent. A subtle vibration and beep lets you know.”

Another note about iPhone6 and iPhone6+, they are really more of an NFC-enabled mobile payment device rather than an NFC-enabled device. All other NFC functionalities besides Apple Pay, have been disabled by Apple.

See more details in my newly released book “Everyday NFC Second Edition”. http://amzn.to/O76fQY

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