Using phones as payment: Will it ever take off?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| August 29, 2014


Let’s talk for a moment about spending money. It’s something that all of us do, sometimes multiple times on any given day: filling up the gas tank, grabbing a morning coffee and breakfast on-the-go, getting lunch or a mid-day snack, buying knick knacks for the home or refilling the office supplies at work - the possibilities are endless, but it’s hard to argue that spending money is just one of those things that we have to do often.


So we know that we spend money often. Duh. There are also only a few select ways that we spend that money: cash, credit/debit cards, and checks, with credit/debit being the most "recent" addition of that short list. As of right now, paying via credit/debit is considered the fastest and easiest way to complete a transaction. But just how long before another payment method bumps it off?


Technically, it already has - but it hasn't been widely adopted yet. It wasn’t all that long ago that certain smartphones that were able to make payments via NFC (Near Field Communcation) appeared on the market. Basically, this method can save you time and space by allowing you to “carry” certain credit/debit cards with you by keeping that card’s information stored on the phone. With this information, certain retailers can accept payments using just your smartphone.


As innovative as that idea was, I still haven’t seen a lot of use come of it yet. In fact, out of the 3 years that I’ve known about payment via NFC from a smartphone, I can only recall seeing one person attempt to do it and it failed. With news that the iPhone 6 may be coming with its own payment platform and NFC support, I wonder if this will actually help phone payments truly take off.


Truthfully, I have my reserves about the method. Then again, who doesn’t have their reserves about new, forward-thinking ideas? While I think the idea to use smartphones as payment is feasible, my issue actually lies within the fact that I’m really, truly getting uncomfortable with the idea of my entire life being on my smartphone. I find the idea of putting all, or even some of my money, on my smartphone just a little too invasive for my taste. It’s kind of how I feel about phone cases that also double as a wallet. Phone theft is a huge thing. Putting my money on my phone is like asking to have two very important aspects of my life taken from me at the same time.


And maybe that’s just me being paranoid, because I know that having access to your money via your phone is password protected; still, anybody who feels like stealing a phone probably has enough motive to try and crack the code to get to your e-wallet as well. Maybe they won’t succeed, but then again, maybe they will.


I guess I’m torn about it, because I can see how it can be beneficial both in time management and furthering the fact that phones are effective in de-cluttering our lives. That being said, I have a feeling that if - and again, I feel very strongly about this if given how long phone payments has been around and how well-received it has been - phone payments does ever manage to take off, I’m going to be the old geezer that insists on holding up the line by taking seemingly forever to pay with a debit or credit card. It’s the equivalent of somebody paying by a check today - something that I don’t think I’ve ever done in my life. Does it really take that much longer? No, but it feels like it does, and you just want to tell them to embrace the future of credit and debit cards because it’s so much more convenient. Yeah, somebody would be telling me that (or in the very least thinking that) should the time come that phone payments becomes the next big “thing” to make purchases with.


In the end, I’ll probably be sticking to debit, credit cards, and cash. I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable having my money available from my phone.


Images via CNN, Verizon Wireless