Apple Pay and Google Pay are two of the most useful inventions of the past few years. They’re smartphone applications that allow you to pay for products online and in retail stores with RFID point of sale devices. But is using Apple Pay safe? Is Google Pay safe? Should you use these in favor of a traditional credit card? Or are these services too risky to use? Let’s go through them and find out!
What Is Apple Pay? What Is Google Pay?
Apple Pay and Google Pay are applications on your smartphone that act in lieu of your credit card.
To get Apple Pay, you need an Apple iOS mobile device and an Apple ID. For Google Pay, you just need a Google account. Both of these services can be used in many online stores.
How Do Apple Pay & Google Pay Work?
They both work in a very similar manner. They use what’s known as tokenization, which takes your credit card number and turns it into a single-use payment code (or token). That token is hashed with cryptography and can only be unlocked (and thus accepted) by the retailer that accepts the payment.
Because of this, the application never sends your credit card info, and the retailer never gets it! Instead, a payment is authorized by the application itself, which is then processed by your credit card.
To make a payment, you need to unlock it with a second factor. Apple Pay offers fingerprint scanning, passcodes, and Face ID. Face ID is a facial recognition software which only responds to your face.
Google Pay accepts fingerprints and passcodes.
These applications require that your phone be screen locked. This is to protect against cell phone thieves from having access to your credit cards.
Despite all this, you might be concerned about the safety of these applications. Should they be trusted to process your payments? Let’s look at the facts.
Are Apple Pay & Google Pay Safer Than Swiping Your Card?
Yes. When you swipe your credit card, you’re at risk of the retailer or POS system skimming your card information. Swiping your card sends the credit card info, unencrypted, via the magnetic stripe. Apple Pay and Google Pay do not send credit card info at all!
Because of this, Apple Pay and Google Pay offer an added layer of protection from skimmers.
Are Apple Pay & Google Pay Safer Than A Chip Insert?
Chip inserts are lauded as being much safer than swiping the magnetic stripe. This is because the chip generates a one-time code that is required for the payment to be processed.
However, chip cards still require the insertion of your card. Skimmers have gotten much more advanced, installing literal cameras onto the point of sale to take a picture of your credit card! This allows transactions to be made online, but not at most retailers.
Apple Pay and Google Pay never show your credit card to anyone. You have the option to take a picture of your credit card to register for your account, but Apple and Google report that they do not store this picture anyone on your device or on their servers.
Because of this, they are still safer than a chip insert at the transaction level.
Should I Use Apple Pay & Google Pay For Online Shopping?
Online shopping is no longer regarded as very risky, especially when you use trusted retailers such as Amazon. However, there are many ways that your credit card info can be stolen when shopping online.
You could have a virus on your computer that records your keystrokes, catching when you type your credit card info (even if the website itself is secure!). These are called keyloggers and are big threats to your privacy.
You could be sending your credit card info to a shady retailer that keeps credit card information on file. This is generally a worry when shopping on unknown sites.
Apple Pay and Google Pay protect against both of these scenarios. Since Apple Pay and Google Pay do not require you to type credit card info, you’re protected against being keylogged. And because Apple Pay and Google Pay use single-use payment tokens to authorize payments, retailers don’t get your credit card info online.
Sounds great and secure! However, there are still some big risks with these systems.
What Are The Risks of Apple Pay & Google Pay?
If your phone is stolen and broken into, it can then be used to make fraudulent payments. However, with fingerprint and Face ID technology, this risk is greatly reduced. It’s not enough to steal your phone: they need to be able to get past the 2nd factor as well.
If someone gets into your Apple or Google account. To protect against this, use strong passwords and make sure to use two-factor authentication for both services. And be aware of the risks of data breaches!
If someone creates an Apple Pay account using your credit card info. There are no safeguards against someone who already has your credit card info using it to create an Apple Pay or Google Pay account. Worse yet, they have no limits on transactions. Since it’s so easy to get away with fraud, you should be concerned about this. To protect against this, you need to make sure to keep your credit card info safe.
If you get phished while creating an Apple Pay account. This can also hijack the process and cause you to give your credit card info to complete strangers. To protect against this, make sure you don’t click suspicious email links when signing up for your account. Use only the official apps provided by Apple and google!
Want to learn more about the risks of credit card fraud? Check out our article on credit card fraud!