Jim Fisher

I’ve been trying really hard to avoid icky humans for a while. I try to do my grocery or Lowes shopping in the mornings when it’s not crowded. I have barriers in my office that keep 10 feet between myself and clients. I have fans blowing in my lobby to simulate the outdoors. I wash my hands, use hand sanitizer, wipe down all incoming computers with alcohol, and of course I wear a mask because I don’t want to infect others in case my precautions aren’t enough. Because what person in their right mind would refuse to wear a mask in public? That would be really silly, right? RIGHT?

But I still have to go forth into the wild to purchase provisions from time to time. One of the things that have bugged me about shopping is that I still have to touch that germ-laden credit card swiper that the nasty person in front of me just touched. So I decided to finally utilize the technology built into my smartphone to handle payments without touching stuff. I don’t know why I’ve done without it for so long.

There are three main players in the touchless payment processing game: Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. They all use a technology called Near Field Communications (NFC) to securely transmit credit card information from your phone or smartwatch to a credit card terminal. The terminal must support NFC and will usually display a little symbol that looks like sound waves.

Samsung phones use NFC as well as a cool technology called magnetic secure transmission (MST). MST gives your phone the ability to simulate the magnetic strip found on the back of a credit or debit card. This allows your phone to work with older credit card terminals.

To use this feature, simply launch either Apple Pay (for iPhones) Google Pay (for all android devices), or Samsung Pay (for Samsung brand phones). These apps are already on your phone. The app will ask you to simply take a picture of your credit card. Your phone will recognize the numbers on your credit card, ask a couple of simple questions, then you’re set. You can scan in all of your cards. They will all appear on your phone just as they do in your wallet.

The next time you go shopping, instead of inserting your credit or debit card, you simply launch the app on your phone, scroll through your credit cards, tap the one you want to use, then hold your phone close to the terminal and watch the magic happen. Those of us with smartwatches can simply tap our watch, choose a card, and hold our wrist close to the terminal.

This technology is a lifesaver for those dummies among us who sometimes go grocery shopping, collect a buggy full of stuff, then discover they walked out of the house without their wallet. I mean, who would do such a silly thing? Well, this dummy, is who. As long as you have your phone, you can still do your shopping. 

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com