A different way to pay

NAMPA — Customers at Howard’s Tackle Shoppe in Nampa can pay with cash, card or smartphone.

The Nampa shop can accept payments from customers who use smartphone applications known as mobile wallets. So far, no one has taken advantage of the technology, store manager Mary Fuentes said.

Although many customers like the convenience of paying with a credit or debit card, Fuentes said she doesn’t think paying by phone will be as popular.

“I don’t see it happening here anytime soon,” she said.

The store’s credit card reader can accept payments from mobile wallet apps that are Near Field Communication-enabled. That allows customers to pull up the app and simply tap their device on the reader to pay. Fuentes said she wasn’t aware the card reader could do it.

Several Idaho Falls businesses also were unaware that their credit card readers were capable of accommodating the wallet apps.

“We did just get a new credit card machine a while ago, and the machine is probably capable of doing that,” said Adam Peterson, a veterinarian and owner of Skyline Animal Hospital. “We’ve never done it.”

So far, none of Petersen’s clients have asked about paying with their smartphones.

Scott Swore, owner of Limitless Electronics, said his store has received only one request to pay by smartphone. He had already contacted his credit card reader vendor about enabling the mobile payment capability.

“It is something that my machine is capable of, but (the vendor) still hasn’t got it fully up and functional,” Swore said. “So I haven’t been able to do that yet.”

While customer demand for the app is minimal, Swore wants the mobile payment capability “because of the convenience.”

Many consumers unaware

Mobile wallets have been around for years, but have been slow to catch on with consumers.

The New York Times recently reported that few consumers are getting on board with mobile wallet apps, in part because many are not aware of the new payment systems. Others are confused by the choices or don’t see the benefit of the apps.

“I’m just not sure about loading that much data on my phone,” Fuentes said.

According to a report by TSYS, a payment processing company, only 1.2 percent of the $1.6 trillion in credit card transactions made in 2012 by U.S. consumers were done through a mobile payment solution. Still, research firm Gartner predicted mobile payment transaction value would grow in North America by 53 percent in 2013 to reach $37 billion, up from $24 billion in 2012.

Nampa’s American Pawn and Gun also has the capability to accept payments made through mobile wallet apps, but like Fuentes, manager John Louis said he hasn’t seen customers pay that way and wasn’t aware his card reader was capable of accepting such payments.

While most of his customers use a credit or debit card to pay for their purchases, Louis prefers using cash.

“It’s so easy for people to obtain information now,” he said. “It’s just floating around everywhere.”

According to the TSYS report, mobile wallets have security features that make them safer than using a plastic card. Users must enter a password to access their mobile wallet. It’s also easier for users to freeze an account through a mobile wallet if the phone is lost or stolen.

But consumers remain leery.

TSYS surveyed 500 consumers in January to determine what they were looking for in a mobile wallet. The study found that consumers believe using plastic payment cards is convenient, and any added convenience of using a mobile wallet isn’t there if consumers still have to carry around a physical wallet for other items.

Mobile payment options

The Isis Mobile Wallet app is a joint venture of AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. It allows users to load payment cards, loyalty cards and coupons onto their phones.

It uses Near Field Communication, so a user can tap or wave his or her mobile device on the card reader.

According to the app’s website, it’s PIN-protected, and sensitive data is stored on a special chip — called the Secure Element — inside the user’s phone.

In the event the phone is lost or stolen, users can call or visit the Isis website to freeze payment cards and shut down the app.

The website lists locations where the Isis app can be used to make payments, including McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Chevron, as well as local stores and shops.

Consumers can look for the tap-and-pay logo on card readers, which indicates the readers accept mobile wallet app payments.

Google Wallet keeps track of users’ loyalty cards and lets users join rewards programs through the app. It also has the tap-and-pay feature, and users can send money to anyone in the U.S. with an email address, according to the app’s website.

Square Wallet is another app that stores payment and loyalty card information. Users also upload a picture of themselves onto the app. The users check into local businesses and then say their name at checkout to pay, according to the app’s website. The clerk checks the picture to confirm it is the correct customer, and the payment goes through.

Fast food and drink apps

More than 11 percent of weekly transactions at Starbucks stores are made with a mobile device, chief digital officer Adam Brotman said in a news release. Nearly 11 million customers use the app.

The app, which the company launched nationally in 2011, allows customers to pay with their smartphones. It displays a bar code that works the same way as a Starbucks gift card. To make a purchase, customers hold their smartphones in front of a scanner.

Starbucks announced in March it is expanding the features of its iPhone app to allow customers to leave a tip at more than 7,000 Starbucks locations throughout the U.S. It also introduced a “shake-to-pay” that allows customers to bring up their Starbucks Card in the app simply by shaking their phones.

Wendy’s and Burger King also introduced mobile pay apps earlier this year, but they aren’t accepted in all markets.

Post Register reporter Bryan Clark contributed to this report.