The end of cash: Tapping for money becomes commonplace for consumers

The days of jingling pockets are coming to an end. The rounding initiative begun two years ago has already seen the beginning of the end of 1c and 2c coins.

The end of cash: Tapping for money becomes commonplace for consumers

The rest of them are not far behind, and once they’re gone, notes are likely to follow soon after. And as the cashless society takes hold, you can bid goodbye too to your credit and debit cards.

The only thing you’ll need when you leave the house will be your keys and your phone.

Just last month, Apple Pay arrived in Ireland. Its main rival, Android Pay preceded it by about three months.

These are known in the trade as Near-field communication, or NFC payment platforms. In a nutshell, they allow you to use your device like a debit or credit card.

You download the wallet app to your device and enter your card details into it.

If you wish to make a payment in one of the participating stores, you hold your phone or tablet or smart watch up to the terminal.

In most cases, you don’t even have to wake the device up.

The sensor picks up the proximity of the terminal and completes the transaction automatically. You walk out with your purchase and the relevant amount is automatically deducted from your card account.

Ulster Bank has launched Apple Pay in Ireland as part of its customer-centric innovation, transforming mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to pay that’s fast and convenient.
Ulster Bank has launched Apple Pay in Ireland as part of its customer-centric innovation, transforming mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to pay that’s fast and convenient.

Apple Pay was first rolled out in the States more than two and a half years ago. In the first three months of its life, the company reported that over one million cards were registered on the app.

Here in Ireland, two banks are currently embracing the platform. You can use Apple Pay with KBC and Ulster Bank debit and credit cards.

The technology works with an iPhone 6 or later, an iPhone SE, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 or later and an Apple Watch paired to an iPhone 5 or later.

Set up Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint sensor, and you can use Apple Pay to shop in participating websites and apps, without the bother of having to fill out lengthy account forms or shipping and billing info.

Two banks have also taken on Android Pay — KBC again, as well as AIB. Android works with Android phones and tablets with Android 4.4 or later. As with Apple Pay, you just install the app and enter your card details.

As well as point of sale transactions, you can use the technology on the range of participating websites and apps — which are of course growing in number all the time.

So the big question. Is it safe?

Yes, says Jillian Heffernan of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI).

“With both Apple Pay and Android Pay, the card number and identity of the cardholder aren’t shared with the retailer,” she says, “and actual card numbers are not stored on your device or on Apple/Google servers. Also, in the event that the cardholder loses their device, they can temporarily suspend or completely delete the ability to use Apple or Android Pay from the device.”

While the cut-off point for contactless payments is €30, it’s possible to use Apple Pay and Android Pay for higher value transactions with a number of participating merchants — and there is an extra layer of security in that event.

You’ve got to unlock your device and hold the back of it to the contactless payment terminal until you see a checkmark. The phone will beep and/or vibrate to confirm that the payment has been made.

Jillian Heffernan says that while cash is still king, the old methods of payment are slowly ceding ground to the new.

“While figures show that cash is still the most popular form of payment at point of sale — particularly for lower-value items – consumers are increasingly using debit cards, contactless and other electronic payment options in preference to cash for the greater convenience and security they provide.

"These latest initiatives, and others likely to follow from across the banking sector, will further bolster the use of non-cash payment options.”

While the banks rush to reassure you that all of these methods are secure, it’s worth pointing out that the consumer also has a role to play here.

Only download mobile apps from official app stores. These include the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Blackberry App World. Always keep your mobile phone’s operating system updated with the latest upgrades.

Older software may have vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could expose you to security and fraud risks.

The BPFI also recommends you do what very few people do, which is to use a reputable brand of anti-virus software on your mobile phone.

Don’t share or give your mobile banking security details, including your passcode, to anyone and never store these on your phone.

Finally, remember that public wifi hotspots aren’t always secure.

Only access online/mobile banking on safe networks.

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