The Race to the Digital Finish Line: Mobile Wallets

posted 9/15/2015 in General

The mobile wallet market was already crowded last month when Samsung announced it was throwing its hat into the ring and joining the race. So what exactly is a mobile wallet? A mobile wallet is a payment application that allows consumers to manage their credit and debit cards using only their smartphone. To give you a better idea of what exactly a mobile wallet is, let’s take a look at the competitors vying for the #1 spot.

Apple Pay: Created by Apple for their iPhone smartphones, Apple Pay was one of the first entrants into the mobile wallet race. It was first launched in the US last October and uses Near Field Communications (NFC) to make payments. Users simply take a picture of the front of their card and enter the security code on the back of the card as well as any other verifying information. The app then connects with the issuing bank or credit card company to verify your account and once verification is complete you are ready to use Apple Pay. Apple Pay supports up to eight cards and is fairly simple to use. Just hold your phone up close to the card reader and your phone screen will wake. Then, select the card you wish to use and place your fingerprint on the Touch ID fingerprint scanner to complete your purchase. Apple Pay can also be used to pay within supported apps without the need to enter passwords and shipping information every time. Unfortunately, Apple Pay is currently only compatible on the iPhone 6/6 Plus and iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 running iOS 8.1 or later.  

Android Pay: Google Inc. has announced that their revamped version of mobile wallet, Android Pay, is coming this fall. Prior to Android Pay, the app was called Google Wallet. Google Wallet was a NFC mobile payment app that allowed users to pay in stores and redeem loyalty points. However, the number of phones, banks, as well as merchants that supported it was limited. Now, Android Pay will be available to any Android users running version 4.4 or later with an NFC equipped phone. Users can type in a short PIN number or use their phone’s fingerprint scanner. With a reported 78% of global smartphone users using Android, Android Pay looks to be a major contender in the mobile wallet race going forward.

Samsung Pay: Announced last month, Samsung Pay has one key difference from the top two competitors previously mentioned. While it still has NFC compatibility, Samsung Pay also supports a technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MTS). This technology passes along the information in the magnetic strip of your card to the terminal. Since nearly all terminals are able to read magnetic strips, this gives Samsung Pay an edge in the mobile wallet race, as most merchants have been reluctant to upgrade their terminals due to the increased cost and uncertainty with the technology. As with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay will only be available on their newest devices with fingerprint reading technology.

CurrentC: A lesser known mobile wallet competitor, CurrentC is currently in development by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). While many haven’t heard of MCX, the merchant network includes retail giants Walmart and Target as well as stores such as Best Buy, HyVee, Kwik Trip, Lowes and more. CurrentC aims to reduce the swipe fees retailers pay to credit card companies to accept their cards in stores. The app will also be able to provide coupons and keep track of earned rewards from within the app. However, rather than linking to a debit or credit card, CurrentC links directly to the consumer’s bank account and subtracts funds similar to a debit card. The app also generates QR codes that are scanned at the register instead of NFC payment terminals. Originally scheduled to be released this summer, CurrentC may not launch until sometime next year.

World Competitors: The mobile wallet race is not just limited to the US. Alipay, the largest mobile payments app in China, boasts over 650 million users throughout Asia. The app works similar to CurrentC as the merchants scan a QR code off the phone to process the payment. Paytm is another Asian company located in India that aims to make a run in the mobile wallet race, as well as Yandex in Russia that nearly a quarter of all Russians use to make payments online.

While mobile wallets are currently attempting to make it easier for you to get through the checkout line in the store, they could eventually eliminate you having to stand in line at all. Mobile wallet apps could also help simplify the exchange for travelers in countries with different currencies. The race is just getting started, and Lincoln Savings Bank will make sure to keep you updated on all the new financial technologies making an impact on your lives.

Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC.


"Apple." About Pay in the US. Apple Inc., 16 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Sept. 2015. <>.

Brown, Mike. "Google's Android Pay May Be First Mobile Wallet Consumers Actually Use (Sorry, Apple Pay)." International Business Times. IBT Media Inc., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

O'Connor, Fred. "Samsung Pay Joins Crowded Mobile Wallet Race." PCWorld. IDG Consumer & SMB, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Sept. 2015.

Heller, Laura. "Apple vs Walmart: Mobile Payments Reveal A Clash Of Titans." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
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