Apple Pay has been in Canada for many months now, Samsung Pay came shortly after, and Android Pay arrived on May 31 of this year. Many Canadians are familiar with using “tap” at the debit machines by tapping their debit or credit cards on the machine. Yet the idea of using a smartphone or smartwatch to pay seems to cause a lot of hesitation and concern – both here, and in the US.

I hear a lot of people saying things like, “I don’t see how that is safe for my finances if my bank card is on my smartphone.” It’s an opinion many jump too without knowing all the facts. Here’s why I feel using tap with your smartphone rather than your debit card is a better option.

Android Pay is more secure

Your debit and credit cards are more than likely equipped with NFC, which means you can tap your card on a debit machine to make a payment. It’s as simple as taking out of your wallet, purse, or pocket, tapping the machine, and walking away with your purchased item. But see, that’s the problem.

If you dropped or lost your card, that PIN number you have memorized is now kind of useless. Anyone can pick it up and start buying items without ever knowing your PIN number or having to provide a signature. Yes, payments via tap is only good up until $100, but still… That’s your money someone is stealing.

When it comes to Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay, you can’t just tap your smartphone on debit machines as you would you card. At the very least, you need to unlock your smartphone via your password, PIN, pattern lock, or more commonly now, your finger print scanner.

In my case with Android Pay and my BlackBerry KEYone, I just tap my finger on the fingerprint scanner and tap my KEYone on the debit machine. The smartphone vibrates and a check mark appears on screen, showing the transaction was successful. Had I not unlocked my smartphone, nothing would happen.

If someone ever left their smartphone somewhere, and someone else picked it up and tried to buy something with it, it won’t work without knowing how to unlock it.

So which makes more sense to use? A card anyone can pick up and use, or a device that’s locked to you and only you?


RFID scanners are another concern. These scanners can catch the info from your debit and credit cards, which in turn, provide thieves with your credit card number. A way around it to use a wallet with RFID protection, but if you didn’t need your card with you at all, even better.

While using your smartphone, if you were somehow tricked into using a fake terminal, the credit/debit card number provided to the terminal is randomized and does not give your actual account number. Additional protection.

Transaction history

Have you ever run into a scenario where you purchased food, an item, or gas, and you did not get a receipt? Maybe you opted to not get that receipt, or the gas pump ran out of paper when you pre-paid. Perhaps you bought a coffee from McDonald’s new self-serve screens, and the receipt dispenser was jammed.

Well, the last scenario happened to me, so I didn’t have my receipt to bring to the counter and claim my morning coffee. However, I did have the dollar amount paid and the date/time within my Android Pay app on my phone. I showed them this, and all was well. Handy!

Loyalty cards

I know there are a lot of apps out there where you can scan your loyalty cards and keep them all digitally on your smartphone. Examples are Air Miles, Costco, Petro Points, or a Scene card.

Well, instead of having two apps to worry about, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay all let you scan your loyalty cards for easy access. Very handy!

Thinning out your wallet

This last point is least important, yet I still find it a very nice perk. When all these cards are scanned and kept on your smartphone, you don’t need to keep them with you – with the exception of your main debit or credit card, in case the business you go to does not have tap available.

As an example, I can get away with not having Air Miles on me at all times. If scanning my smartphone’s screen works while I have my Air Miles card showing from within Android Pay, I’m good to go. If it doesn’t work, I just don’t worry about it and carry on. Simple.