Apple Pay vs Google Wallet vs Bitcoin

Now that Apple Pay has been released, my Buddy Calvin and I did a little experimenting to see what are the good and bad points about the different flavors of phone payment that we’re familiar with.  (Maverick gas station, McDonald’s, and Macey’s grocery store are all a few bits richer today.)  Everywhere that we went the vendor’s NFC hardware worked for both Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Here’s a breakdown of each method.

Apple Pay Experience:

To pay with Apple Pay you place your iPhone 6 close to the NFC reader, the phone prompts you to ok the payment by using the fingerprint reader, you use the fingerprint reader.  Done.

– If the phone is locked before the transaction, it will be locked after (no need to unlock the phone first)

– Works without a data connection

– Works in airplane mode (turning on airplane mode leaves NFC on)

Google Wallet Experience:  (My testing was done with a OnePlus One – KitKat 4.4.4.  Your android mileage may vary.)

First, unlock your phone.  Place your phone close to the NFC reader.  You will be prompted to enter your Google Wallet PIN.  Enter your PIN to approve the transaction.  Done.

– You can enter your Google Wallet PIN prior to attempting payment.  The wallet stays unlocked for a short amount of time.

– You must unlock your phone before attempting payment (bummer).

– Works without a data connection, but you get a cryptic error on the phone that without close inspection makes you think that it didn’t work.

– Won’t work in airplane mode because enabling airplane mode turns off NFC on Android.  I’ll bet this is changed soon.  You can manually turn on NFC while airplane mode is on, but it won’t remember this the next time you try it.

Bitcoin Experience:

The vendor shows you a QR code.  You unlock your phone, enter your wallet application, and scan the QR code.  You are asked if you would like to send NNN bitcoin to XYZ bitcoin address.  You click yes.  You and the vendor wait for confirmation.  When confirmation arrives, the transaction is complete.

– If the vendor is using a service like BitPay or Coinbase, the confirmation is very quick.

– Requires a data connection on the phone.

– Must unlock the phone and enter the wallet application (probably another password/pin required)

– Does not require NFC (works with older iPhones and no NFC Android phones)

Enhanced Bitcoin Experience:

Vendor asks for an email address or SMS number.  Vendor sends information to your phone via one of these methods.  Your wallet application is handed this information.  It prompts you if you would like to send NNN bitcoin to ABC corporation for YYY product or service.  You click yes.  The merchant receives confirmation.

– Requires a data connection on the phone.

– Must unlock the phone (and probably the wallet application).

– No NFC required.

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