Paying with phone

Paying with phone: The most important questions and answers

Paying by mobile phone is no longer science fiction. The technology has been available in most European countries for years and is now offered at most checkouts. And that's no surprise. Paying by phone is not only convenient and fast, but also secure.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How paying by phone works

  • What hardware you need to pay and get paid with your mobile phone

  • Why the technology is safe


How does paying with phone work?

Payments by phone are processed using the Near Field Communication (NFC), a standard for wireless data transmission. Similar to contactless payments by bank card, payments by phone can usually be completed without CHIP and PIN. To pay with your mobile phone, you need an NFC-enabled smartphone with an appropriate app (such as Apple Pay™ or Google Pay™) to which you add your bank card (an NFC-enabled debit or credit card).

To pay with your mobile phone at the checkout, all you have to do is open the app, select the card you want to pay with, hold your phone up to the card terminal and confirm the payment if prompted. It's that easy.

How to pay with phone:

The choice of apps you can use for making payments by phone depends mainly on your phone manufacturer. If your smartphone is an Apple iPhone™, Apple Pay™ is available; for Android™ devices, it's usually Google Pay™. The steps you need to take to set up the app are similar:

1. First, open your wallet app and connect your bank card.

Using Apple Pay™:

  • Open the wallet app.

  • Tap the "+" symbol.

  • Scan the card according to the on-screen instructions, or enter the card data.

  • In the last step, your bank will verify the card data and send you a confirmation as soon as your card has been connected successfully.

Using Google Pay™:

  • Open the app

  • Select Google Pay™ account

  • Add payment method 

  • Record card data with the camera, or enter it yourself

  • Enter a confirmation code if necessary

  • Once you have added the card, Google Pay™ will verify its validity and your account by temporarily deducting a small fee.

2. To pay, hold your phone close to the card terminal with about 4 centimetres distance.
3. Confirm payment by following the instructions on your phone screen. In some cases, the phone will ask for your PIN, fingerprint or facial recognition.
4. Now the app should confirm your payment. If the payment transfer did not work, follow the instructions on your display and, if necessary, repeat the process.

What requirements must my smartphone meet to enable mobile payment?

Not every mobile phone supports mobile payments; the technology only works with devices that come with a built-in NFC chip. Today, such a chip is a standard component in recent smartphones. All Apple™ models, starting with the iPhone 6™, have an NFC chip.

If you have an Android device, you can easily find out if your phone has an NFC chip. To do so, simply open the system settings and search for "NFC and payment" in the connections menu.

Note: Before starting the payment process, make sure that your mobile phone battery is sufficiently charged and that the device is connected to the Internet. If your phone runs out of power, the NFC function may switch off automatically.

What are the advantages of mobile payment?

Paying by phone is becoming ever more popular – and not without reason. The technology offers some clear advantages for both customers and retailers alike.

  • Paying by phone is fast. According to a 2019 study conducted by the German Central Bank, an average cash payment transaction takes around 22 seconds. Contactless payment via NFC, which includes mobile phone payments, only takes around 14 seconds. In addition, nowadays almost everyone has a mobile phone with them at all times – which helps to avoid long queues.

  • It is more hygienic. As you won't come into contact with cash when paying by mobile phone, it is one of the most hygienic payment methods. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a crucial advantage for both merchants and customers.

  • It has become standard practice. In today's digital age, many customers expect to be able to pay by phone. Mobile payment is particularly popular among young people – and the trend is gaining momentum.

How can I accept mobile payments?

Mobile payments can be easily accepted with any SumUp card reader. The compact Air card reader, the smart Solo card reader with touchscreen and our 3G card reader with printer support mobile payments. And all of them come without monthly fixed costs or contractual obligations. You can find the overview of our card reader product range here.

Card reader overview

Please note that our card readers can only accept cards that are compatible with our services – whether they are stored in the wallet app or used directly for payment. For more information, take a look at the list of accepted cards.

How secure is paying with mobile phone?

Paying by phone is generally considered to be very secure. During the payment process, the mobile phone accesses the provider's server and transmits a so-called token, which contains the credit card number in encrypted format to make the information worthless to thieves. The card number itself is not transmitted.

As a result, mobile payments are even somewhat safer than card payments because your card details are not displayed. In the event that your phone is stolen, the thief will not be able to use the payment feature as he will be unable to unlock the phone and confirm the payment. Therefore, make sure to always use the screen lock feature.

Be careful: You should regularly check your device for malicious software. If you have reason to believe that there is a virus on your phone, it's best to delete your card from your app and have your bank card blocked.

For more information on contactless payment security, have a look at this article.

What are the fees for paying by phone?

Payment by phone is generally completely free of charge for customers.

For merchants who want to accept payments by phone, the fees depend on the card terminal provider. At SumUp, contactless payments, whether by phone or card, are processed in the same way as chip and PIN payments. For a complete list of our transaction fees, please see our price and fee guide.

Is it possible to make an accidental payment when the phone is near an NFC device?

No payment will be made without unlocking the phone screen and opening the app. So if you have set up a screen lock (via password, facial recognition, fingerprint etc.), it is next to impossible to issue a payment by mistake.

The time has come to embrace mobile payments!

Mobile payments are becoming more and more popular. After all, the technology offers advantages for both retailers and customers: it is fast, safe, convenient and very hygienic. So what are you waiting for?

For more information on cashless payments, see this article.


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