The Power of NFC, in the Palm of Your Hand
Technology is a very fast paced world and it’s pretty difficult to keep up if you miss a single beat. Also, technology is hard to accept sometimes. Both of these come into play when we talk about Near Field Communication (NFC) and how it can help us. NFC is used in many ways, and of course, all of them are meant to help you. However, one of those ways ask that you take a big bite of courage and be willing to accept the future. I know some of you are too hesitant to trust electronics with sensitive material such as credit or debit card information. I’d like to attempt to show you the ease and security behind NFC mobile payments in hopes to help you check out faster at the register and also help alleviate some of those worries that you may have towards the future of technology.

Both Google and Apple, the leading competitors and operating system manufacturers in the world, are leading the charge on NFC mobile payments. The idea is simple. Where you would typically swipe your debit or credit card at the register, instead you would tap the back of your phone to the tap and pay touch pad. The hard part is understanding the technical functionality behind the process. And that is where most of you probably clam up. I feel confident that showing you the process of setting up NFC mobile payments on your phone, walking you through how you would check out at the register, and then addressing a few security FAQs should do the trick.

Note: Although NFC mobile payments are capable on both Android and Apple iOS, this editorial will only help you set up NFC on Android. Many, but not all, of the technical process is the same and similar. However, Apple decided to make the execution of Apple Pay happen differently. I’ll try to point out some of those differences along the way.

 Setting Up NFC Mobile Payments on Your Android Phone or Tablet

The first thing that we are going to want to do is turn on NFC in the device settings. The general placement of this setting is under Wireless & Networks and touch the option “More…” which is near the top of the settings menu. Inside the “More…” settings, You will see “NFC” listed with a checkbox beside it. Touch the checkbox, to check it. You will receive a pop-up notification. It will alert you that this allows data transfer when you touch two devices come together back to back so make sure you know and trust the owner of the other device. Then choose “Enable” at the bottom of that message.

The next step you will need to go through in order to use NFC mobile payments on your Android device is finding an acceptable app from the Google Play Store. My recommended app is Google Wallet. Once you have downloaded and installed Google Wallet, don’t worry it’s free, open the app on your device. This first screen you see should prompt you to create a four digit pin code. Please use common sense when generating a pin code. No sequential digits. 

Security debunk #1: This is just as secure as a pin code on your debit card. If you lock your phone with any type of security already, this pin code just doubles the security. 

 After your pin is created, you should be looking at a screen similar to the one above with the menu along the left side of the screen. You will now need to add a credit card or a debit card to the account. Start this process by clicking on “Cards and accounts”. You’ll see a “+” symbol in the top right corner. Touch the “+” and then enter your card’s information: number, name, expiration date, etc. Google makes it a little easier for you by allowing you to scan the front of the card and it will read all the data from the front and back of the card. Click save at the bottom to finish this step.

Security debunk #2: This is where people start to get nervous. Remember, if someone stole your phone, they’d have to hack your phone’s security first, and then try to hack the Google Wallet pin code. Most phones erase and wipe all data (including this information) after 10 unsuccessful hacks. And sense you have an Android phone you can log in from the web and remotely wipe your device.

Notice that you can also add gift cards and loyalty cards to Google Wallet to help reduce the thickness of your true wallet even more.

Now it’s time to tell your phone which app you want to use when you go to use NFC at the register. This step is necessary because some carrier’s like AT&T and Verizon already have an app called ISIS or Soft Card, and it’s set as the default NFC payment app of their choice. To override that default choice, take a look on the screen with the blue box across the top where you’ll see “Set up tap and pay” near the center of the screen. Touch that text and you’ll get a Terms of Use pop-up box. Accept that to continue. Google Wallet will now walk you through “How to use tap and pay”, but I’ll go into those details in a minute. You can “NEXT” then “DONE” through that little tutorial.
You’ll now be looking at the screen with the blue box at the top again, but this time you’ll see “Tap and pay unavailable” in red text, touch that red text. It’s going to ask you if you want to set Google Wallet as your default NFC app and you want to choose “Yes”. Now the app is all set and ready to go. If you want to confirm this, go to the settings on your device (not the app), scroll down to “Tap and Pay”, and you’ll see a list similar to the one below. Take note of which one has the green dot to the right. It should be Google Wallet. If for some reason Google Wallet doesn’t have the green dot beside it, you can choose it now, and it will now become the default NFC mobile payment app.
Using Google Wallet Tap and Pay at the Register
This part really is the simplest part of all. If you find yourself checking out at a store that accepts NFC payments, all you have to do is unlock your phone then touch the back of the device to the NFC pad, wait for a chime, enter your Google Wallet pin code, and your done. The app will give you a success or failure notification within seconds. If you are prompted (or asked by the merchant) always select credit, even if your default card is a debit card.
Time to Answer More Questions
  1. How does Google Wallet work? When you tap the phone to the NFC payment pad, it triggers the app to ask Google to approve charges against your Google account. In turn, Google will process the final payment against the card you chose. So in essence, you’re not immediately making on a payment towards that card, it’s a payment towards a fictitious Google card (with no interest). But then Google will charge that card within a day or two.
  2. Is my information truly secure? This is all part of the fight against the future. If you are one to bury your money in a mayonnaise jar in the yard, you are probably not ready for NFC payments. Google holds your credit card information that you entered in an encrypted file on the device, including your pin code. It is also backed up under your Google account. At anytime you can log into the Google Wallet Manager dashboard on the internet and manage all your Wallet information.
  3. When do you use Google Wallet, Adam? I use it as often as I can. I’ve seen NFC tap and pay registers in drug stores, Toy-R-Us, gas stations, McDonald’s. But they aren’t every where. In fact, with the news that Apple is now playing the NFC game, I’d expect that number of locations to grow quickly.

I enjoy using NFC payments and Google Wallet. It is really quicker than pulling out a credit card and swiping it then putting in the pin code or signing a receipt. Because guess what, more than likely, you already had your phone in your hand scanning Facebook while waiting in line. Don’t lie to yourself. You do it to.
Have you got anymore questions about NFC or tap and pay procedures? Sound off in the comments and I’ll answer them all.
Editor’s note: As I was writing this step by step, news broke that several retailers that normally accept Google Wallet or Apple Pay NFC payments have turned off their NFC machines. This is because they are working on their own competitive mobile payment solution. One that has nothing to do with NFC and has everything to do with customer information data mining. It’s also said that their solution will remove all credit card fees that they have to pay when you swipe your card. They do this b/c their solution is for you to connect their app directly to your bank account. As I get more information on this news, I will post an updated story.

Posted in: NFC