payment-photosIf you’re a consumer who’s purchased a smartphone recently, you may be thinking about one of the cooler uses for that device – making contactless payments for purchases at retail shops and restaurants.

But which type of mobile payment is right for you? There are many choices already here or coming soon, including Google Wallet, Square, Softcard, Apple Pay, CurrentC, LoopPay, and PayPal.

Each mobile payment brand has its own business model, features, and benefits. Some are the products of partnerships among device makers, payment processors, and banks, while others are built around a relationship between the payment provider and each merchant. Some use NFC in card emulation mode to perform transactions, while others use QR codes or a radio-equipped phone case. Some work with any credit card, while others are limited to specific brands. Some can work with existing magnetic stripe POS terminals, while others require newer-technology terminals or add-on dongles.

It’s all a bit daunting — until you take a closer look.

Only you can decide which mobile payment solution best meets your needs. But as you evaluate your choices, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • NFC is global. NFC is based on industry standards and supported throughout the world. There are already 500 million NFC-enabled devices in the market, and 64% of all smartphones will be shipped with NFC by 2018, according to IHS Technology. If NFC is already built into your phone, you won’t need to buy any add-ons for it to work.
  • NFC is proven. Around the world, tens of millions of people are already using NFC to pay for purchases, access public transit, and more — and many have been using NFC for a number of years.
  • NFC is already popular with consumers. According to a survey cited in NFC World, nine out of 10 consumers who have used NFC for mobile payments would use it again. In a typical month in Japan, 9.8 million people use their mobile wallet to make payments. Meanwhile, journalists and reviewers are giving high marks to recent NFC deployments in the US for ease of use and reliability.
  • NFC is secure. Some mobile payment methods are no more secure than conventional magnetic-stripe cards, making your financial data vulnerable to hacks. Robust security measures are available and in use for NFC payments, including: strong authentication methods (complex passwords, finger biometrics, etc.) to prevent use by unauthorized users; device on/off switch for NFC to prevent illicit use; data encryption to prevent unauthorized access to confidential data during NFC transmission; and proximity – NFC’s short transmission rate makes it less vulnerable to interception.
  • NFC can do much more than payment. You may be initially attracted to NFC as a mobile payment method, but once you get used to that simple tap-and-go action, you’re probably going to want it for other tasks in your life. You’ll be pleased to know that many NFC implementations allow you to do much more with your NFC-enabled smartphone, including quick and easy one-touch pairing of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices, tapping NFC tags on store shelves and product labels to redeem offers and get more info, using your NFC phone to start your car, and unlocking your hotel room door with a touch.

When you add it all up, it’s clear which mobile payment method delivers more: NFC.