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Grow Your Business Technology

Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet: Which Is Better for Mobile Payments?

Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet: Which Is Better for Mobile Payments?
Credit: LDprod/Shutterstock

Apple Pay is finally here. After months of rumors, Apple confirmed this week that the iPhone will have near-field communication (NFC) functionality. Now, you and your customers can pay for in-store purchases using an iPhone, thus eliminating the need to carry around cash and credit cards.

NFC is nothing new, but with Apple finally catching up to its competitors, many speculate that it could mean big things for the future of mobile payments. But how does Apple Pay compare to its closest mobile payments rival, Google Wallet? Read on to find out.

Checkout

Apple Pay. Apple Pay combines NFC technology and the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint reader to speed up checkout. Simply hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on the Touch ID, and the phone will vibrate and beep when checkout is complete. There's no need to open any apps or even turn on your screen. [Apple Pay: Top 3 Features for Small Business Owners]

Google Wallet. Google Wallet also uses NFC technology and requires you to hold your phone near the contactless reader to finish checkout. Unlike Apple Pay, however, Google Wallet requires a couple of extra steps: You'll need to wake up your screen and, in some cases, enter a PIN to complete the purchase.

[Plan on accepting Apple Pay or Google Wallet? You'll need a contactless reader from your point-of-sale (POS) system provider. For a side-by-side comparison of the best POS systems, visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]

Setup

Apple Pay. There are several ways to add credit and debit cards to Apple Pay, which are all stored in Passbook. The easiest way is to use the credit or debit card already associated with your iTunes account by entering the security code. To add a new card, you can either take a photo of the card or enter the information manually.

Google Wallet. To add a card to Google Wallet, you can either sign in to the Google Wallet website, use the Settings menu in the mobile app or log in through your bank's website.

What makes Apple Pay different?

Apple Pay, like other Apple products, is designed to work entirely within the Apple and iOS ecosystem. What ultimately makes Apple Pay different from Google Wallet is that it aims to be the central hub for all purchases that iPhone users make, spanning everything from offline to mobile purchases.

Apple Pay relies heavily on Passbook to store credit cards, which makes perfect sense, considering Passbook already stores your mobile payments and loyalty cards (along with coupons, tickets and boarding passes). If you use Google Wallet on your iPhone, you'll have to use the Google Wallet app, which requires extra steps and isn't streamlined with all your other payment data.

In addition to in-store checkout, you can use Apple Pay to pay for in-app purchases, which you can't do with Google Wallet. Just choose "Apple Pay" during checkout and place your finger on Touch ID to complete the purchase.

What makes Google Wallet different?

Like Apple Pay, Google Wallet lets you pay for both online and offline purchases. What Apple Pay lacks, though, Google Wallet makes up for by offering even more ways to pay and send money online.

Google Wallet payments aren't limited to major credit and debit cards. You can also use your Wallet Balance — the amount stored in your Google Wallet or Google Wallet Card, Google's MasterCard debit card — to pay for purchases. This feature is especially useful if you want to keep your personal credit and debit cards out of your smartphone.

Additionally, Google Wallet works seamlessly with Google Play, Drive, YouTube and other Google properties, as well as apps and mobile websites that already use the "Buy with Google" button.

Unlike Apple Pay, Google Wallet also lets you send money to — or request money from — friends. All you need is the other person's email address, and money can be wired either by bank transfer or using your Wallet Balance.

Security concerns

Apple has taken many steps to make Apple Pay safe and secure, including the following:

  • Encryption: Credit and debit card numbers are never stored on devices, transferred or visible to anyone. Instead, Apple Pay assigns each credit and debit card with a unique, encrypted Device Account Number to process payments.
  • Private purchases: With the exception of recent purchases listed in Passbook, Apple itself doesn't store any of your purchase information or transactions.
  • Remote access: If you ever lose your device, you can disable or wipe your phone remotely with Find My iPhone.

Google Wallet also offers many security features, including the following:

  • 24/7 fraud monitoring: With 100 percent fraud protection for unauthorized purchases made in the U.S., Google Wallet arguably offers a higher level of protection than Apple Pay.
  • Wallet PIN: Use a four-digit PIN to authorize purchases.
  • Remote lock: If your device is lost or stolen, you can remotely disable Google Wallet via your Google Wallet account.

Availability

Apple Pay will be available on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus beginning in October. The app works with major Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit and debit cards, and will be accepted at more than 220,000 stores. Participating banks include Bank of America, Chase, Capital One, Citi and Wells Fargo, with US Bank, PNC and other banks to follow.

Google Wallet is available on iOS 6.0+ and Android Gingerbread v2.3+ devices. Like Apple Pay, Google Wallet accepts all major credit cards and can be used at any establishment that uses contactless payments.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.