Mobile payments: a guide to paying with your smartphone

customer using mobile payment at cafe

If predictions by the experts ring true, the days of paying with cash and coins could soon be a thing of the past. In fact, that could be as soon as 2022, according to a 2019 CommBank report

And Aussies aren’t just ditching cash but we are also taking it digital. Recent research has shown that almost 10% of card users have adopted smartphone payments and that number is only set to grow. 

Haven’t joined the digital wallet ranks yet? Here's a roundup of the major smartphone payment options available now, to help you decide which one is right for you.

But first … what is a mobile wallet?

A ‘mobile wallet’ simply refers to an app that gives you the ability to make purchases with your smartphone at point of sale (POS) terminals. Payments are contactless. Mobile wallet apps communicate with POS terminals through technology dubbed ‘near field communication’ (NFC).

In Australia, there are currently a few mobile wallet options available to banking customers: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. 

Let’s have a deeper look into what each has to offer. 

Apple Pay

Apple Pay uptake is booming in Australia as one of our favourite ways to pay. Apple Pay is compatible with iPhones (depending on the model), plus you can also use it to make in-app purchases on most Apple devices such as your Apple Watch and iPad.

Key facts:

How to use it on your smartphone:

1. Download or open the app from your Apple ‘Wallet’, using your existing Apple ID. Then you’ll be prompted to set up your Face ID or fingerprint password.

2. Upload the details of any eligible debit and credit cards you have in your name by taking photos when prompted with your smartphone.

3. Pay with Apple Pay online or in person at a terminal that accepts NFC transactions (anywhere you can use payWave and PayPass). Access the app with your Face ID or fingerprint, choose the card you want to pay with and hover your phone near the merchant terminal. Payment complete!

Google Pay

Google Pay, Google’s mobile wallet that was previously dubbed Android Pay,  entered the scene a little later than Apple Pay in Australia, but it’s still going strong. And given that the search engine giant now offers its very own phone dubbed ‘Pixel’, we’ll probably see the number of Aussie Google Pay users steadily increase.

Key facts:

  • A range of Aussie financial providers support Google Pay including all of the big four banks as well as other popular card providers such as American Express, UBank, ING, and more. 
  • It’s compatible with Android operating systems, including WearOS smartwatches, making the app suitable for smartphone users who aren’t Apple enthusiasts.

How to use it on your smartphone:

1. Download Google Pay from Google Play, then set up your account. 

2. Upload your compatible cards. 

3. To make a purchase with your phone, hold it over a payment terminal supporting NFC. You can set up fingerprint identification (if your phone supports it) or simply set up a pin. 

4. Just unlock your phone as you normally would and hover away!

Samsung Pay

Samsung launched its own mobile payment app in 2016, known as Samsung Pay. While only 55% of credit card and debit card providers on the Mozo database offer this mobile payment method, it has some pretty handy features.  

Key facts:

  • AMEX and Citibank  jumped on board first as the only two card providers offering Samsung Pay to their Aussie cardholders. But these days a wide range of banks, credit unions and other financial providers offer Samsung Pay, including all of the big four.
  • Samsung Pay not only works at terminals where contactless payments are accepted, it can be used at older merchant terminals which read magnetic stripes too. That’s all thanks to “Magnetic Secure Transmission” (MST), a technology that can release magnetic signals from your phone. So the unique thing about Samsung Pay is that it has both NFC and MST capabilities. Impressive!
  • The app can require facial recognition or fingerprint authentication if you opt in for it, just like Apple Pay.

How to use it on your Samsung phone:

1. Open Samsung Pay from your home screen, apps menu, or lock screen.

2. Swipe to choose the card you want to pay with.

3. Verify yourself with facial recognition or the touch of your finger (alternatively, you can tweak your settings to not include your face or fingerprint, but a pin number instead).

4. Hover your phone over the merchant terminal to make the purchase.

Wearables: Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay

If paying with your phone isn’t enough, believe it or not there are also options to pay from the watch on your wrist (as long as it’s of the Fitbit or Garmin variety). Like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, these wearable options allow you to make contactless payments at POS terminals. While two very separate smartwatch companies both Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay launched back in 2017.  

Key facts:

  • Fitbit Pay launched in Australia with a massive partnership with ANZ, CommBank and NAB. While late to the party, Westpac now offers Fitbit Pay, along with a bunch of other banks and credit unions on the Mozo database. 
  • Garmin Pay which dropped around the same time as Fitbit Pay is also offered by all of the big four and other credit card and debit card providers. 
  • Both wearable options are designed for just that - to be worn. So while each has an app for your smartphone which you can link to your watch, there is no option to use Fitbit Pay or Garmin Pay as a payment method through your mobile phone device. 

How to use Fitbit Pay:

1. On the Fitbit app on your smartphone tap the Today tab and then on your profile picture.

2. Tap your device image and then tap the Wallet tile. 

3. Follow the on-screen prompts and add the card you desire. (You may need to verify some details or set up a 4-digit PIN). 

4. Once your card is added, follow the on-screen steps to turn on notifications to complete set up. 

How to use Garmin Pay:

1. Open the Garmin app on your smartphone and enter a 4-digit passcode. 

2. Tap either Mastercard or Visa and fill in your card details (or scan them using your device’s camera).

3. Depending on your bank, you may need to verify yourself through a unique code in order to link your desired card.

4. Once verified, you are free to use Garmin pay. Simply press and hold the action button and tap the wallet icon. 

What the big four banks offer

CommBank

While they weren't one of the first, Commbank have now jumped on board the digital wallet train and offer a huge range of options for debit and credit card customers. They have embraced Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay and even have their own CommBank Tap and Pay within their banking app (only available on Android smartphones). They also have payment options for your wearables, like Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung and Google Wear OS. 

ANZ

ANZ was the first of the big four banks to offer customers Apple Pay for credit and debit cards. ANZ customers can also use Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. So whatever your mobile payment preference, there's an option to suit you.

NAB 

NAB customers now have access to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay,  Google Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. They also offer Nab Pay, which is compatible with Android powered mobiles. Once you’ve downloaded the app and set up your account, you simply press a button within the app to Tap & Pay at a merchant terminal that accepts contactless payments. All payment methods work with NAB credit and debit cards.

Westpac 

Westpac offers mobile banking and digital wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay. Customers can also use a range of wearable payment options with Westpac’s own PayWear as well as Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. You can pay with your phone or wearable with eligible Westpac debit and credit cards

RELATED GUIDE: The banking world at your fingertips: A guide to biometric payments

So that was a roundup of the mobile wallets currently available to everyday spenders in Australia (and the ones in the works). To find out more about how this innovative technology works, head to our fintech hub or if you want to start comparing credit cards to use on your device check out the options below. 

Want some of the best credit card deals available? Compare below. - last updated 25 September 2021

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^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Credit Card Awards

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