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Convenient: The word most used when people describe using mobile wallets

Gulf News spoke to four different people who have used the tech, to find out what they really thought

Gulf News

Mobile wallets have been described as a banking revolution, changing the way that we will purchase items and live our lives. Shopping will be incredibly convenient, fraud will be minimal, and banks will be able to cater to our needs as they understand our shopping habits better.

A mobile wallet is an app you can download on your phone, link to your bank account, and then use to pay for things in shops and restaurants, removing the need for a bank card or cash.

But are people actually using the technology, or is this all a load of hot air from the banks?

Gulf News has found six individuals living in the UAE who have used, or are currently using, mobile wallets.

Mike Priest told us he was impressed by how well it worked when he first used it.

“I was sceptical going in to it, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked, and how many places it worked in,” he said, adding: “It was super convenient.”

Mike says that he used Samsung Pay, on a Samsung Galaxy S8, the company’s latest phone.

He did run in to some issues eventually, however: “The only difficulty I found, because it was a new system, was that some shops weren’t sure how to use it from their end. But I rarely had any issues with it working.”

Samsung Pay has been available in the UAE since April 2017.

Despite being pleased with how well the technology worked, Mike did say that he felt there was the need for clearer signs telling people that they can use their mobile wallets in that store.

“I also feel it’s important to educate people about security,” he added.

Syed Taha Zia is a bit more sceptical. He said that people in the UAE are too careless with their phones, and don’t pay enough attention to security, leaving them at risk of theft if they are using mobile wallets.

This shouldn’t be too much of a concern, however, as every mobile wallet ensures that the user must either scan his or her thumbprint, or enter a passcode, before paying for anything. So even if you don’t have a password on your phone, your mobile wallet is secured by several layers of security.

Nick Regos can’t wait to get rid of his bank cards. Having broken his cards in half on multiple occasions, he says it’s time to ditch the plastic and go fully digital.

Unfortunately, his experience with a mobile wallet “was a bit hit-and-miss.” Not because the technology didn’t work, but because many of the staff working in Dubai’s shops didn’t know what it was.

“Some people knew what it was — which was good. But others needed to call their managers as they didn’t know how to use it,” he said.

In a reversal of roles, Nick had to “show them how to use it with their point-of-sale (PoS) system.” Whilst many didn’t think it would be possible, Nick showed them that they did indeed have the necessary technology, and could accept mobile wallets.

“When it did work, it was great,” Nick added.

The mobile wallet he was using was Samsung Pay, on a Samsung Galaxy S8. One feature that Nick said he particularly enjoyed using was membership and loyalty cards, not just bank cards.

“It’s just so convenient,” Nick added.

Dalya Mohammad has been using her mobile wallet for over a year now. She especially enjoys using it in Carrefour, where it can be very busy and every second spent at the till counts.

“It’s really quick — within seconds. I like having the rewards and loyalty points system integrated too so it’s automatic,” she said.

Dalya, who was using the Beam Wallet, available in the UAE since 2012, echoed other people’s comments that mobile wallets are “convenient to use,” adding that she has used them at a variety of places, from petrol pumps and to Costa Coffee.

She also said she understands why people are hesitant to switch over at first.

“Before starting, I wasn’t sure whether to give my card information to an app on my phone. I think that’s why people don’t use it. But once they start, they see how convenient it is,” she said.

“It’s pretty much as safe as using a card,” Dalya added.