A week using Apple Pay in Rockford

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A week using Apple Pay in Rockford

Recently, I had an enlightening experience after being forced to use Apple Pay by way of forgetting my wallet at work for a weekend.

There I was —stranded in a Walmart parking lot. The worst place to be on any Saturday morning, let alone while accompanied by the ominous “what the h*** did I do with my wallet” feeling. My first cause of concern was wiped away with an oddly-clear memory of placing my wallet in my desk drawer at some point on Friday. How my brain remembered this—but only recently realized that I didn’t have my wallet with me and how I forgot it there in the first place—was puzzling, but not concerning at the time. My second concern was clear and concise. Second, I needed chips. I was to attend a social event in less than an hour and if I didn’t come with a medium bag of Cheddar Ruffles, I may as well not come at all. It was time to problem solve. My missing wallet was a problem and Apple Pay was the solution.

Weeks prior, I had setup my MasterCard to work with Apple Pay. Thanks to clumsy fingers, I am constantly reminded that tapping the iPhone’s home button twice while your phone is locked, will initiate Apple Pay. Having used Google Wallet once before with my Galaxy S4, I felt confident that this emerging payment technology wouldn’t let me down.

What I didn’t prepare for, was Walmart’s inability to accept Apple Pay. I learned this by spending at least a solid sixty seconds clanking my phone on a credit card terminal like an idiot, all while asking; “did it work this time?” With my tail between my legs and my iPhone back in my pocket, I left the store empty-handed.

As it tuns out, Walmart is one in a handful of big-box retailers—including Target—who do not allow NFC (Near Field Communication)-based payment systems, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Walmart does, however, stand out among those who do not support the system, in that—rather than planning to start accept NFC payments in the future, they openly oppose the application. Forbes.com wrote an article explaining Walmart’s plan to deploy their own phone-based payment application for use only in their stores. After all, you know what they say—if you can’t join them, beat them!

Is that how the saying goes or is that backward? I think I have that wrong. Maybe it was— if you can’t join them, just purchase from third-world suppliers who have questionable child-labor policies.

Walgreen’s won the $6 bid on some chips. I was supplied and ready for a pig roast. But my curiosity got the best of me. Where else could I use Apple Pay?

Later that night, I needed a snack. Away from home, I thought it would be nice to stop at McDonald’s.

Nice“? Alright—that one might be a bit over-fabricated as well, but I’ll spare you from another rant.

Although the restaurant accepts Apple Pay, I would not recommend using it if you do not feel comfortable explaining through a drive thru window, that a bar code reader is not the right piece of equipment to capture an NFC signal. There’s a huge difference between the two technologies, people! If you’re feeling nerdy, here’s a How Stuff Works article on NFC. Also, check out this quite nicely-constructed video by Half As Interesting that explains a bit about bar code technology.

I’m confident that Apple Pay and other NFC payment applications are here to stay. I would encourage any small business to look into how it can be integrated in your POS system. Square is one of the easiest POS systems to use and they offer a product to capture NFC payments. You might win an extra sale or two just for having the ability to accept Apple pay. Just promise not to spend thousands of dollars developing an exclusive, in-store-only payment application instead, and remember to educate your cashiers on how to use the technology.

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