Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Quicktake: how mobile wallets like Apple Pay work

From security to speed, an explainer on the latest in payment technology

Majid Al Futtaim acquired UAE’s leading mobile wallet app Beam in November last year. Courtesy: Majid Al Futtaim
Majid Al Futtaim acquired UAE’s leading mobile wallet app Beam in November last year. Courtesy: Majid Al Futtaim

Increased collaborations between local credit card providers and global tech giants have made mobile wallet use more common – meaning everyday transactions can be more secure and hassle-free.

We take a look at what this technology is all about.

What is a mobile wallet?

There are a range of these digital payment methods on offer in the UAE and different mobile wallet apps are compatible with different mobile devices. Samsung Pay, PayPal, Beam Wallet and Google Pay are for Android smartphone users, while Apple Pay comes pre-installed on iPhones. Telco Etisalat, Paypal, and even some local banks like Mashreq and Emirates NBD RAKBank have their own mobile wallet offerings.

Basically, a mobile wallet stores your credit and/or debit card information on your smartphone and links to a payment gateway to enable purchases at a point of sale. Like a credit card, mobile wallets will only work at merchants who are set up to accept the device as a payment method – usually you’ll see a logo for the types of mobile wallets you can use at the register.

How does it work?

To get started, open the mobile wallet application on your smartphone and register the details of your credit card or debit card. Typically, Mastercard or Visa cards issued by partner banks will work with the mobile wallet application. Local UAE banks that are linked with Apple Pay for example, include ADCB, Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank and RAK Bank.

Next time you are about to buy something, just make sure your phone is on and hold it up to the contact-less terminal to make a payment electronically via Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

Also, most mobile wallet apps can also store information of users’ loyalty cards, coupons and tickets.

How secure are mobile wallets?

Every single transaction is encrypted. Mobile apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay use advanced tokenisation solution, which substitutes the confidential account number of the cardholder with a different card number – also known as a token. This token is used by the payment device and merchant. It ultimately minimises the chances of cyber breaches as the token can only be used from the device on which it is registered.

Although mobile wallets are comparatively safer than swiping physical debit or credit cards, fraud can occur. Use caution when logging onto public WiFi because that is when your personal data is most vulnerable.


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Updated: January 7, 2019 06:05 PM