Mobile payment systems want you now. And why not? They offer a much more secure system than the current standard found in the US. Add in their newfound convenience and you have a system that makes perfect sense for consumers as well as businesses.

But there’s a bit of a flaw in the system: Most people aren’t sure how to get the most out of mobile payment. Many remain wary and unconvinced. Let’s see if we can ease those concerns and provide some tips for getting more from whichever mobile payment system you use.

1: Understand how it works

Lack of understanding is one of the biggest hurdles to widespread adoption, so the first step is to learn how mobile payment systems work. The misconception is that mobile payment systems make direct use of your bank account credit card number and transmit it wirelessly from your phone to an NFC terminal. That is not the case.

The major payment systems (Apple Pay and Google Wallet–and soon to be Android Pay) use tokenized payment systems, so your card numbers are never transmitted. Also, neither Apple nor Android Pay saves your transaction history or card numbers on their servers. These systems are secure. Once you’ve set up the mobile payment system, you can enjoy a convenient payment process without having to remove a card from your wallet or purse.

2: Ease into it with PayPal

Did you know that some merchants now accept PayPal? If you’re unsure about using your phone for retail payments, you can always enable PayPal for in-store purchases. To do this, log into your PayPal account, go to Settings | Payment Preferences | In-store Checkout and Activate. In that same Settings location you will set a PIN, set payment methods, and request a payment card. Once the PayPal payment card arrives, you can use it anywhere that accepts PayPal. Unfortunately, you can’t add your PayPal card into the likes of Google Wallet, so this isn’t quite mobile payments. Still, this method offers a means of easing yourself into the realm of mobile payments.

3: Add loyalty cards

Google Wallet and Apple Pay allow you to add loyalty cards. Why would you want to bother with this? Part of the appeal of mobile payments is that you can cut the tether between payment terminal and wallet. If you use Apple Pay or Google Wallet/Pay and you’re still breaking out your wallet, you’re defeating the purpose. Add those loyalty cards and stop pulling out that dusty wallet every time you want Kroger to know which delicious food items you are purchasing, in hopes of winning the percentage-off lottery.

4: Wait for Android Pay

We don’t know what’s going to happen with Google Wallet, but with Android “M” comes Android Pay. Android Pay will align better with Apple Pay and make mobile payments a much more user-friendly process. If you’re an Android user on the fence about using mobile payment systems, hold off until the release of Android Pay. Why? Many people have found Google Wallet to be less than an ideal solution for mobile payments. You want your first experience to be as good as it can be. To that end, hold off until Q3 2015 and a much improved mobile payment experience will be at the ready.

5: Use your wearable

Although wearables have yet to really gain mass acceptance, those who are making use of these fantastic tools should also be using them for mobile payments. Using your wearable, you won’t have to extract your wallet from your pocket or purse, and you’ll no longer have to search for that phone. The convenience is never ending.

6: Map out stores that accept the various types of mobile payments

This can be a bit of a hair-puller at the moment. You go to the store, hit the register with your goods, and whip your your phone…only to find their NFC-enabled terminal hasn’t been set up (or they are still using old-school terminals). If you want to map out your local stores that accept the various forms of payment, check out which stores work with Apple Pay or Tap And Pay. After all, knowing is half the battle.

7: Obtain a Google Wallet Card

This is another idea that isn’t directly part of the mobile payment system–but it can serve as a great way to learn how secure paying via Google payments can be. Yes, you are still using a physical card. But the Google Wallet Card is directly tied to your Google Wallet/Pay account, so you’re one step closer to mobile payments. Once you understand how secure and convenient the system is, you can make the next step and switch the card out for your phone.

8: Add gift cards

Both Apple and Android payment systems allow you to add gift cards. This can do a number of things: It keeps you out of your wallet, helps keep you from forgetting that you have the gift card (happens to me all the time), adds another appealing feature to your mobile payment system, and makes mobile pay even more convenient. What’s better, adding gift cards to your account is really easy. This should be a no-brainer…especially for those who tend to receive (or purchase) a lot of gift cards. Having them in all one handy location makes using gift cards not only simple, but it makes them seem a bit more of a logical option for retail purchases.

9: Secure it

If your mobile payment system offers the ability to secure it with a fingerprint scanner or PIN, do not, under any circumstance, bypass that system. Take this one step further and make sure your device lock screen is password protected. You can even use a third-party app lock app to lock down Google Wallet (even though it already requires a PIN to lock down) or your device settings (for further protection). The moral of this story… make sure your smartphone hasn’t been dumbed down by a lack of security.

10: Use it

Period. End of story. If you don’t use it, you won’t acclimate to the process. Worst case scenario: If you don’t use it, retailers will not adopt it. If retailers don’t adopt it, mobile payment systems could fail. This would be a shame, considering the benefits of mobile payment. It has been suggested that less than 6% of Apple users actually take advantage of Apple Pay. Google Wallet probably has even fewer users. For the systems to continue growing, this needs to change.

The payoff

Mobile payment systems are there to add a layer of security and convenience to the process of paying for goods. Making the most out of those systems will not only ensure that they enjoy a long and successful life, it will also help prevent you from losing your hard-earned coin to insecure systems. Get the most out of mobile payment and it will reward you in both the short run and the long run.

Your turn

Are you fan of mobile payment or have you avoided it? Share your opinions and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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