Fragmented World Of Payments

Last Saturday we ran a number of errands and at the end of the day something dawned on me: I had used several different payment systems and the payment process remains awkward for most of them.

Our first stop was Walmart where the payment terminal said to swipe my card, so I did and then was told to insert the card (called a dip). Since I don’t shop at Walmart all that often, I didn’t realize or remember that they now do chip. It is also hard to remember or know which merchants can take NFC payments; the terminal may look like it works, but when you try it, it fails.

Our next step was the ATM; this particular ATM was a Bank of America ATM that did NFC (NFC is the mechanism by which the iPhone talks to payment terminals). I had loaded my ATM card on my iPhone to give it a try. Unfortunately it didn’t work probably because I’m not a BofA customer and it didn’t like the card from my phone. So I reverted back to inserting the card.

After the ATM, we went to PETCO where I was able to use my Apple Watch to buy some crickets.

Then it was Costco for gas. While Costco does chip cards in the store, it is an insert (swipe) at the gas pump. I got a few hours break after that part of the journey because my credit card needed a rest!

For dinner, we went to BJ’s Restuarant. The selection is wide and my son likes it. We go there often enough that this time I decided to sign up for their rewards program. I downloaded the app and signed up. There was an option for mobile payment which was interesting. At the end of the meal, I pulled out the app, tapped on mobile payment, entered our check number, selected the tip and was presented with the option to pay with Apple Pay. That was pretty cool; I used TouchID to pay and we left (kind of felt weird not interacting with the server to pay).

After dinner, we headed to Best Buy to buy an iPad for my mother-in-law. Best Buy does NFC payments and used my Apple Watch (it took 2 transactions because the terminal froze when it came time to sign).

Recapping, in the course of the day, I used the following ways to pay, all with my credit card:

  • Dip (insert)
  • Insert (swipe)
  • Apple Pay (on Apple Watch)
  • Apple Pay in an app

I’m a huge fan of Apple Pay because of the security (merchants don’t see my real credit card number) and while I don’t choose places to shop based on payment option, I kind of smile every time I use it because it still feels like magic. Hopefuly in the near future, all merchants will take NFC payments.

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