On first consideration, being able to pay with a mobile phone seems like a really great idea. After all, you always have your mobile with you and it saves the hassle of having to carry cash and cards around, right? Your payment data is encrypted and tokenized when in use, meaning, it is a pretty secure method of payment. So mobile payments are convenient, fast and your payment information is secure. Additionally, there are no payment limits like there are with contactless cards which make it possible to use this method of payment for bigger ticket items as well – sounds perfect?
Are there any downsides of mobile contactless payment?
It kills your battery life
Anyone, who has a smartphone which they use day in and day out, will know about the fundamental limitations of battery life. This is a problem when using power hungry apps and anything on your phone which uses processing power like 4G. We are also all familiar with that sinking realisation that your battery is not going to last the day (or night). For this reason, it is unlikely in the near future, that your phone will ever be the sole method of payment you have with you. Who wants the dilemma of having to decide whether to use their remaining battery power to pay for a round of drinks or call a cab at the end of the evening.
Lest we forget! – it’s actually a phone…
Sometimes you will even want to use it as one! Imagine rushing into a shop, phone pressed to your ear as you fumble around for a card or cash to pay for a coffee or a newspaper. If you need to use the phone to pay, do you hang up your call, to open your payment app and complete your transaction? Perhaps not, but it is begging to look a little less convenient when you want to use your phone for its primary purpose!
It’s a really expensive mobile phone Wallet!
When you consider the cost of your mobile phone and the extent to which you put it at risk, making small payments with it really doesn’t make a lot of sense! Many mobile phones cost several hundreds of pounds and we are now in the era of the £1,000 mobile phone. Because of the ever increasing value and desirability of handsets, we are also in the era of increased mobile phone theft with, snatch theft becoming a problem in some major cities like London. The Metropolitan Police have issued advice for guarding against handset theft and it mostly involves “keeping your phone out of sight and not using your phone in busy public places.” The examples they give are stations, concert venues and shopping centres – all the places where being able to make quick, convenient payments may be of benefit.
Aside from the risk of having your handset stolen, you also run the risk of dropping or damaging your phone if you have to keep taking it in and out of your pocket to make payments.
Mobile payments: our conclusion
For the time being at least, we still prefer not to use a phone handset to routinely make payments. Contactless cards, whilst having some vulnerabilities in terms of security, make much more sense as a lower risk quick and easy payment method.
‘Want to know more about RFID cards protection? We have prepared a detailed description of this technology.
Updated in June 2020