Apple Pay

Speedpass+ for Apple Watch

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A while back I wrote an article about the ExxonMobile Speedpass+ app for iPhone that lets you pay for gas with using Apple Pay. Well, a couple of days ago ExxonMobile updated their Speedpass+ iPhone app to add support for Apple Watch. This is really good news because using a credit card to pay for gas is probably one of the riskiest activities you can do. It exposes you to the possibility of credit card theft. Thieves have figured out some pretty clever ways to steal your credit card number at the pump, but if you use Apple Pay there is virtually no way anyone can compromise that transaction or get your credit card number. Plus Apple Pay is so much more convenient than any other method of payment. So how does this work?

The new Apple Watch app (which is automatically installed on your Apple Watch after you install it on your iPhone) runs on your watch an uses the GPS location data from your phone to determine which ExxonMobile station you are current at. So step out of your car and open the app up on your Apple Watch. The app will determine the station and ask you to spin the Digital Crown to indicate the pump number you are standing in front of. Then it prompts you to double click the side button on the Apple Watch to pay with Apple Pay and the pump is authorized and ready to use!

I just used the new Apple Watch functionality last night for the first time and it worked well. It makes more sense to use the app from the Apple Watch because I didn't like use the iPhone app from outside of the car (I don't like pumping gas with a cell phone nearby), which meant I used to pay for gas from the iPhone while I was in the car and I would have to strain my neck to look up and out the window to determine the number of the pump I was pulled up to. Now with the Apple Watch I can do this outside the car. The only downside to using the Apple Watch over the iPhone app is that in my case it is a bit slower (but I have the original Apple Watch and not the Series 2). When I say slow let me put that in perspective...it still takes less time than it takes to swipe your credit card at the pump and much of the "slowness" I experienced is because my Apple Watch is slow and not because of the app.

The Speedpass+ app is supported at 9600 ExxonMobil locations across the US. If you have an Apple Watch and have to buy gas on a regular basis I highly recommend you give your business to Exxon Mobil. Companies that put customer's security and convenience first like this need to be rewarded with our business. Unless I am in danger of running out of gas I will be going out of my way to buy all of my gas at ExxonMobil from now on and you should too.

Will Contactless Payments Catch On?

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I just spent a week over in Scotland. Being overseas my preferred method of payment was credit card and I was super excited to learn that Scotland had Apple Pay. But just like in the U.S., Apple Pay is still not commonly offered as a payment option. The few places that we went in Scotland that did support Apple Pay were certainly not familiar with it. In fact, they looked at me paying for an item with double-tap of my Apple Watch like they had just witnessed some sort of miracle. So obviously Apple Pay adoption still has a ways to go.

So I got to thinking...is this normal for a new method of payment to take so long to catch on? It turns out that when compared to previous changes to payment methods, contactless payment methods like Apple Pay are catching on like wildfire. It's just that the whole payment ecosystem is slow to evolve. Take credit cards for example. The first credit card was issued in 1950, the MasterCharge (which eventually became MasterCard) was created in 1967. It wasn't until 1978 that credit cards became more mainstream (according to a Business Insider article). So from inception to wide-spread adoption it took credit cards 28 years. Apple Pay was made available by Apple on October 20, 2014 and just 21 months later Apple Pay usage has grown but it is still not common place to be able to pay with Apple Pay.

So what's going on? I think the answer is complicated. First, unlike credit cards, contactless payments require that you own a compatible device. A credit card company could send you a free piece of plastic in the mail and you were ready to go, but for payment methods like Apple Pay you must not only own a compatible device but you must also have a credit card or debit card that supports Apple Pay. Then there is the added complication of the switch to the whole "chip and signature" method for credit card transactions. This is forcing vendors to update their credit card machines and causing confusion for consumers who don't know which vendors are now accepting the "chip" method of credit card payment or the old "swipe" method.

The good news is that there is another change on the horizon that could give Apple Pay adoption and availability another shot in the arm and that is the new Apple Pay payment method that is coming out with Apple's new macOS Sierra operating system being released this Fall. If you are buying something online and running Safari in macOS Sierra then you can use your Apple Watch or your iPhone to pay. This is so much easier than entering in your credit card number not to mention significantly more secure. I think this added bit of convienance is going to start spoiling people, which is going to increase the consumer demand for an equally convienent and secure method of payment when paying for a service in-person. Combine this with consumer aggravation over the botched roll-out of "chip and signature" credit card payments and I think this will be the boost Apple Pay needs to accelerate into being more mainstream. Let's just hope it doesn't take 28 years like it did for credit cards...

Gassing Up with Apple Pay

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A few weeks ago I stepped into the future, even if it was just a tiny baby step. One of my local gas stations finally came out with a simple and convenient way to pay for gas with Apple Pay. Exxon Mobile Speedpass+ is an iOS app that uses geolocation combined with the user verification of the pump number they are getting ready to use to authorize payment for gas.

Why is this a big deal?

Two reasons, speed and security. Is anyone else annoyed by the number of key presses it takes to pay for gas with a credit card at a typical gas pump? First you slide your card, then you choose credit or debit, then you have to enter your PIN or zip code and finally you get to choose if you want an overpriced car wash (oh, they really hope you aren't paying attention by this point and just hit "yes"). Then to add insult to injury at some gas station pumps the beep notifications are so loud it makes it your teeth hurt. Maybe the whole payment authorization process isn't really all that time consuming, but it is bloody complicated. Not anymore.

The other reason why this new Exxon app is so noteworthy is that it brings the privacy and security of Apple Pay to the gas pump. I've had my debit card either stolen or used illegally twice at a gas station. It's a place most people visit at least once if not more a week so why not make it a lot more secure. This new app by Exxon lets you setup the default payment type and one of those payment options is Apple Pay. It is worth noting that typically when you use Apple Pay the vendor has no idea who you are, the information provided to the vendor by Apple Pay is very minimal. But in this case the Speedpass+ app requires you to setup an account, so you aren't completely anonymous.

So how does it work?

Before you do anything you should research to make sure you have an Exxon or Mobile station near you that supports the new Speedpass+ payment method. Visit this website to find location near you and make sure one of those locations supports Speedpass+. If there is a participating station near you, then download the free Speedpass+ app and setup an account with the app. When you are setting up your account within the app it allows you to make the default payment type Apple Pay, but make sure you already have Apple Pay setup and authorized on your phone first. You can also setup preferences like "don't ever prompt me for a car wash" and even receipt preferences (you can have them emailed to you, printed out at the pump, both or neither). You can also setup an additional layer of security and require a passcode to unlock the app (but if you use a passcode for your phone this really isn't necessary).

Once you have the app setup you are ready to go fill up your tank. Pull up to any of the pumps at a Speedpass+ enabled location and open the app on your phone while you are still in the car. The app will use your current location to figure out which Exxon or Mobile station you are at but you have to have location services enabled within the app. If you don't have location services enabled or for some reason don't want to, the app will prompt you to scan the QR code located on the pump. Then you type in the pump number you are parked next to and hold your finger on the TouchID button to authorize the payment with Apple Pay. Once authorized you have 30 seconds to start pumping gas or the pump will not longer be authorized (a security feature). It is so much faster and easier using the Speedpass+ app and what's even better is no more annoying gas pump payment interfaces.

One caveat here...as of right now the only credit cards you can use with Speedpass+ and pay with Apple Pay are VISA, MasterCard and American Express.

Why You Should Use Apple Pay

As you have probably heard by now, Apple's new mobile payment system Apple Pay has gone live. What does this mean for you and why should you care?

Apple Pay isn't just a gimmick. This payment system has a chance to revolutionize the the way we pay for things. There are two aspects of Apple Pay that make it so important:

  • Privacy: When you pay with Apple Pay the merchant no longer gets any personal information about you. No name, no address, no bank account number or credit card number. Nothing. They get a temporary credit card number and the name of the bank you are using and that's it.
  • Security: Since all the merchant is getting is a one time use temporary credit card number there is no longer any concern about how well that merchant protects its customer data. They no longer have any data about you. The number you gave them is worthless the second you walk away from the transaction and you have given them no personal identifying information. No more canceling your credit or debit card because a merchant's system was hacked and millions of credit card numbers were compromised. With Apple Pay the only people that have your actual credit card number is you and your bank...the way it should be.

I say that Apple Pay has the chance to revolutionize the way we pay for things. It's only a chance because its almost too good to be true. Large scale merchants are either really excited about Apple Pay or they are running scared, scared because they no longer get your personal information when you make a purchase. Why does this matter? Because they use that personal information to turn around and make more money by either using it to sell advertising or by using it to contact you in some way you can spend more money with them. Already there are examples of [companies disabling NFC payments so Apple Pay can't be used][fire]. Why are they doing this? Because some companies are coming up with their own secure mobile payment system, a system that allows them to get personal information about you with the transaction. Your personal information is money to them and they don't want to give that up. The real question is...are you willing to give it to them for free? Maybe you are. Maybe that merchant is one that you want to hear from and get special promotions and deals from, but that should be your choice.

So, will Apple Pay take hold? It will take time to really ramp up. Right now it only works with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with the banks listed below...

and with an ever growing list of retailers...

Hopefully Apple can make Apple Pay a standard before other alternative systems that banks and retailers are developing that transmit your personal data to retailers get a foothold. Other mobile payment systems will come along (and some already exist) and they will use a similar approach where only a temporary credit card number is used...so they are just as secure as Apple Pay. The difference between them and Apple Pay is that:

  • Apple Pay only requires you to touch your finger the Touch ID button on your phone. No special apps specific to that retailer and no taking pictures of QR codes (yes there is actually a concept out there involving QR codes)
  • Apple Pay transmits ZERO personal information about you in the transaction

So how do you setup Apple Pay? It took me all of about 60 seconds this morning once I updated my iPhone 6 to iOS 8.1. You simply go into the passbook app and add a card (in this case a credit card to use with Apple Pay). Follow the instructions from there and within seconds you are setup to use Apple Pay. TUAW has a great step by step article on how to set it up. Once you have it setup, just look for the following symbols at one of the retailers listed above and start paying with Apple Pay!

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