Cash­ing in: A guide to mo­bile money

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS -

New tech­nolo­gies are mak­ing the con­ve­nience of liv­ing cash­free a re­al­ity. But con­sumers need to un­der­stand the trade­offs of aban­don­ing pa­per money en­tirely.

Con­sumer Re­ports of­fers this over­view.

-- Mo­bile Wal­lets

What do they do? Let you pay for pur­chases at phys­i­cal re­tail stores and on­line.

Note­wor­thy brands. An­droid Pay, Ap­ple Pay, Pay­Pal, Sam­sung Pay. Cost. No di­rect fees. What Con­sumer Re­ports likes. Ap­ple Pay is now ac­cepted at 3 mil­lion stores in the United States be­cause re­tail­ers are equipped with new EMV chip card read­ers that also have nearfield com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC) tech­nol­ogy. An­droid Pay and Ap­ple Pay need NFC to trans­act with cash reg­is­ters. Sam­sung Pay can be used at more than 10 mil­lion U.S. mer­chants, be­cause it em­ploys NFC plus a sec­ond tech­nol­ogy that lets it com­mu­ni­cate via mag­netic strip with read­ers that don’t have func­tion­ing NFC.

Caveats. Pay­Pal is mostly for on­line shopping and has very lim­ited ac­cep­tance at re­tail stores. Ap­ple Pay works only on cer­tain, more re­cent iphones; Sam­sung Pay works only on cer­tain Sam­sung de­vices.

-- Elec­tronic Toll Tags

What do they do? Let you pay for high­way, ex­press lane, bridge and tun­nel tolls, as well as park­ing at some air­ports.

Note­wor­thy brands. ex­presstoll, e-zpass, fas­trak, Good To Go!, mn­pass, sun­pass, tx­tag.

Cost. No fees be­yond the toll it­self.

What Con­sumer Re­ports likes. Com­muters can knock 20 min­utes to an hour off their daily drive, says J.J. Eden, pres­i­dent of the Al­liance for Toll In­ter­op­er­abil­ity. No stop­ping. No need to scram­ble for cash or change.

Caveats. High traf­fic vol­ume can clog up even the toll tag lanes. And now the dis­counts, used to lure new cus­tomers, are start­ing to go away.

-- Per­son-to-Per­son (P2P) Pay­ments

What do they do? Let you send money to an­other per­son via the app, email or text.

Note­wor­thy brands. BBVA/ Dwolla, Chase quick­pay, clearx­change, Face­book Pay­ments in Mes­sen­ger, Pop­money, Snap­cash, Square Cash and Venmo.

Cost. Usu­ally re­cip­i­ents never pay, and fees for send­ing vary from free to up to 3 per­cent or more if paid for with a credit card or some debit cards.

What Con­sumer Re­ports likes. It’s su­per easy. Can trans­fer money fast (but see caveats). All the ser­vices take steps to en­sure se­cu­rity.

Caveats. How quickly re­cip­i­ents get their money varies, depend­ing on the ser­vice. For ex­am­ple, money moves in­stantly via Face­book Pay­ments in Mes­sen­ger and by clearx­change, but your bank may take up to five busi­ness days to make the funds avail­able to you.

-- Branded Pay­ment Apps

What do they do? Let you pay for pur­chases only at the mer­chant brand’s phys­i­cal stores and ser­vice providers, and their on­line coun­ter­parts.

Note­wor­thy brands. Dunkin’ Donuts, Lyft, pay­by­phone, Star­bucks, Uber, Wal-Mart Pay. Cost. Gen­er­ally no di­rect fees. What Con­sumer Re­ports likes. These apps com­bine pay­ment, loy­alty pro­grams and or­der­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Uber au­to­mat­i­cally charges you for your ride. pay­by­phone lets you ex­tend park­ing me­ter min­utes from wher­ever you are.

Caveats. Can be used for only one mer­chant brand. You can’t pay if your phone runs out of power.

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