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10 Ways to Pay with Your Smartphone
With tons of apps and features to choose from, it can be hard to know which is the best. Let Fueled cash you up on…
Cash may have once been king, but its reign pales in comparison to the rising cashless and cardless empire. Thanks to mobile wallet services, we can make purchases in-store, pay back generous pals, and even transfer money to foreign countries using our touchscreens. E-commerce apps are big business. Swipe, the e-commerce app designed by a pair of Irish 20-year-olds, is worth $9.2 billion. There’s a huge market for currency transaction apps, and the competition is fierce. With tons of apps and features to choose from, it can be hard to know the best way to pay with your smartphone.
So let Fueled cash you up on ten ways to pay with your smartphone...
For Peer-to-Peer Payments
“Venmo” has reached verb status in the vernacular. “Venmo me 5 bucks for drinks,” or “I’ll Venmo you back later” are things you’ll hear every college student say sometime or another. No surprise — it’s the most popular app for sending money among millennials. Not only is it super simple to use, but it’s got a social aspect to it. There’s a bit of cachet in demonstrating a bit of flair in the way you annotate your payments. Whatever description you use appears in the public feed, giving you and your creative emoji placements an audience.
You can send money from the app to mobile numbers, email addresses, or Facebook accounts. And you get all of these features for the very manageable price of $0. That’s right, Venmo balance bank and debit card transfers are totally gratis. You’ll only incur a fee if using a credit card.
2. Square Cash
Not everyone’s carrying cash anymore, but some may have Square Cash. This app, from the same people who brought you “buying stuff on credit at the farmer’s market,” is growing in popularity. While not as big as Venmo, Square Cash is perhaps easier to use. The app includes an “Auto Cash Out” option that ensures your funds will go straight to your account instead of just sitting in the app. But on the Cash App, you can only see a feed of your own transactions. So it may not have the mini-money-social-network of Venmo, but the barebones design and intuitive features may convince you to jump ship. See which one works best for you.
3. Google Wallet
Google has an app for almost everything these days, even if you don’t visit Google Play. And with such intense integration with so many facets of your online experience, you better believe that they’re in the money transferring game. Google Wallet works the same as Venmo and Square Cash, but you send people money to their emails or phone numbers. Recipients get notified by e-mail and then go through a process to verify their identity to accept the money. If this sounds like your speed, give it a go, but the other apps seem like faster ways to pay with your smartphone.
International Money Transfers
Are you a jetsetting type with friends littering the globe? Clever crowd-powered currency swappers TransferWise will not only charge you much lower fees than a bank, but will give you a much better exchange rate too (up to 8x cheaper!).
This financial sorcery is actually deceptively simple — when you make a transfer, the money never leaves its country of origin. Your deposit is matched with another in your recipient’s country, and sent out domestically. A usability dream, TransferWise’s app will have you flinging payments around the globe in minutes.
With most big banks now sporting a mobile app of their own, you no longer need to go in-branch or use ATMs to make transfers. In the United States, Chase, Bank of America, and many others have mobile apps that can take care of most day-to-day banking tasks. Some even allow you to cash cheques by taking a picture of them.
Currently, the highest-rated mobile app among big banks belongs to Chase. On Apple phones, the Chase app additionally allows users to login with Touch ID, further simplifying and enhancing the way you pay with your smartphone.
If PayPal is the granddaddy of online peer-to-peer payments, Square is surely the grandmama of card-reader dongles. It effectively turns your iPhone or iPad into a cash register with a tiny card reader inserted into the headphone jack. Now processing tens of millions of dollars per day, Square has branched out into entirely cardless payments, allowing customers to settle up simply by checking-in at the store via the Square Wallet app. When they check out, the cashier confirms their identity and the Square payment system handles the rest.
8. Level Up
This mobile payment platform utilizes QR codes to allow users to make payments at local businesses by simply scanning their mobile device. In addition to making payment quick and easy for customers and business alike, LevelUp offers various rewards and loyalty programs. Users can obtain new user discounts when shopping at a business for the first time, or alternatively unlock monetary credit after spending a certain amount at a business.
The app is free to all registered users and only requires users to link up a debit or credit card for future transactions. With no fees for customers and a competitively low credit card transaction fee for businesses (at only 1.95% compared to the 2.75% or higher rates charged by comparable payment companies), LevelUp is a boon to customers and merchants alike.
8. Samsung Pay
Available on Android devices only, Samsung Pay allows users to load their credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards to the platform so that they may use their phones to pay in stores. What makes Samsung Pay stand out is the fact that it is accepted virtually everywhere.
Using a technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission, Samsung Pay essentially allows your phone to mimic a physical card swipe, allowing you to pay anywhere you would usually pay with a credit or debit card. This means that Samsung Pay does not require businesses to be participating merchants in order for users to use the app to make payments. This gives the application a big edge over competing payment applications, however, its limitation to Android users cuts out a significant portion of the consumer market.
9. Tabbed Out
Built specifically for the restaurant and bar crowd, TabbedOut allows you to pay with your smartphone at any establishment that supports the app, as well as a bevy of other smart features. You can see your tab in real time (great for avoiding that end-of-meal bill shock after one too many bottles of wine), add a tip, split the bill with fellow diners, and pay straight from the app. In 2013, the company announced a partnership with Google Wallet integrating those services into the mobile app.
TabbedOut also lets you build a relationship with your favorite eateries. You can leave written feedback once you’ve paid your bill, and you may get vouchers back for next time.
Here’s an app you didn’t know you needed. On Gyft, you can upload any plastic gift cards and manage them from your phone. You’ll never lose that $25 Barnes & Noble credit you got from your aunt again. You can also you can send and receive gift cards, track your balance, and pay in store with your phone.
The mobile wallet realm has already gone through a number of evolutions and witnessed the rise and fall of numerous startups. As the industry continues to evolve and accommodate new technologies, and as more and more consumers look to mobile payment applications for all their payment needs, the landscape grows ever more competitive. The contenders are growing both more numerous and more usable, and increasing adoption means consumers are now almost as likely to have a smartphone in their pocket as they are a regular wallet.
How Will You Pay With Your Smartphone in the Future?
The question is, who will win out? Several companies have launched mobile wallet products which have flopped, and no company has emerged as a clear leader yet. Things may change come the iOS11 update. Apple Pay, which is already available at more than 50% of retailers in the US, will be coming to messages as a peer-to-peer payment option. We may not need anything more than the basic iPhone to make almost all of our transactions. Will Apple completely take over the mobile wallet revolution?