Digital wallets, often described as the future of payments, store your credit card and bank details. This way, you can simply make payments via an app instead of pulling out your cards for every transaction.
Find out how digital wallets work and choose the best wallet out there for you.
What is a digital wallet?
You can think of a digital wallet as a virtual version of your wallet — instead of storing your credit cards, it stores your card details for quick and easy transactions. These electronic wallets are actually digital payments platforms that allow you to make payments on-the-go.
A digital wallet can be accessed through your phone, smartwatch or computer. It is often used with mobile payment systems, which allow users to tap and pay at retail outlets without a PIN code. Some digital wallets can even hide your actual credit card information when making transactions, adding an extra layer of security to your payments.
Compare a range of digital banks in the Netherlands
How does a digital wallet work?
Most digital wallets work through apps on your phone. In this case, NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is used to enable wireless communication between your phone and the card reader. With secure encryptions, the entire payment process from your account to a merchant’s occurs without physical payments.
What types of digital wallets are available?
Digital wallets are largely popular in the Netherlands, with new digital wallet options entering the e-payments industry every year. Here’s a list of some of the most widely-used digital wallets in the Netherlands.
With Apple Pay, you can store the details of any bank or credit card on your Apple account. Access the payment option using nearly any Apple device including Apple Watch, iPad or the iPhone. When paying at a retail outlet, simply bring your Apple device near the card reader and authenticate with Touch ID to verify the transaction. Alternatively, Apple Pay allows you to pay securely on online sites which accept Apple Pay.
iDEAL is one of the most widely-used digital wallets in the Netherlands. It’s so easy to use that you don’t even need to create your own iDEAL account. As long as your bank account belongs to a recognized Netherlands banking partner of iDEAL, you may conduct a direct bank transfer when using iDEAL. To pay with iDEAL, look out for a payment link, “Pay with iDEAL” button or a QR code to scan. The entire payment is then carried out via internet banking through your bank account, which ensures the safety of your payment.
MasterPass is a digital wallet that allows you to make convenient payments, as it stores your banking details in a centralized and secure platform. With Masterpass, you can store the card details of any bank or service even if they are not issued by Mastercard. Throughout the payment process, you are protected by Mastercard’s secure servers and technology, ensuring that all your personal information remains safe.
Unlike services like iDEAL and Masterpass, PayPal requires you to create an intermediary PayPal account from which your money will be drawn from. This will help you pay seamlessly with your PayPal account online, while allowing you to reap reward points for linking a card to your PayPal account.
Like PayPal, NETELLER acts as a prepaid digital wallet for secure online payments. Once you deposit money into your NETELLER account, you can spend it on any one of the thousands of websites they support. To ensure the security of your account, NETELLER supports 2-factor authentication and displays your transaction history, making it easy for you to spot fraudulent usage of your account.
With Skrill, you can pay across different platforms without having to log in to your bank account or retrieve your card details. As a digital wallet, Skrill helps you make secure and fast online payments using your Skrill credentials. Like PayPal and NETELLER, Skrill acts as a middleman in the transaction process.
- Near Field Communication (NFC). This form of technology helps your smart device communicate your card details to a card terminal. It is often used when referring to contactless payments, whereby your card does not have to be physically inserted into a payment terminal.
- 2-factor authentication (2FA). A digital token used to verify that the person trying to access an account is indeed the rightful owner.
- Encryption. A method of encoding messages such that sensitive information cannot be stolen by third-parties. In this case, the communication between your digital wallet and the card terminal is encrypted so that your card details may be kept private.
How do I compare digital wallets?
With the wide variety of digital wallets available, you might want to compare the following factors to determine the best one for you.
- Financial Partners. Most banks in the Netherlands work with digital wallets to facilitate payments for their customers and clients. If you currently hold an account under a certain bank, you might want to check if the bank is already working with a specific digital wallet. This would make it easier for you to set up a digital wallet by going through your bank.
- Security. When using a digital wallet, it is important that there are measures in place to deter fraudulent transactions. Check for security measures such as encryption to disguise your bank account details and 2-factor authentication to ensure secure log-ins to your digital wallet.
- Speed of payments. Ensure that your digital wallet processes payments immediately and reflects the accurate account balance at all times. This avoids confusion as to whether your payments have actually been processed.
- E-commerce availability. Different e-commerce websites may support different mobile payment options and digital wallets. As such, you should check that your favourite e-commerce websites are compatible with your desired digital wallet.
- Rewards programmes. Certain digital wallets can be linked to rewards programmes. By linking all your rewards programmes to your digital wallet, you can easily utilise your points when making purchases online.
What are the pros and cons of digital wallets?
- Faster and more convenient banking. Digital wallets can simplify your experience at retail outlets and on supported e-commerce websites. They let you pay instantly and securely, without you having to fumble for your credit card or key in your PIN code.
- Secure payments. With traditional wallets, you risk misplacing your cards or having your card details stolen during a transaction. Digital wallets, on the other hand, keep your card details obscured and reduce the chances of information theft.
- Accountability and transparency. With your digital wallet, you can accurately track every single payment that you make. Each transaction is time-stamped, recorded and available for viewing anytime. This way, you can easily look out for fraudulent transactions and track your spending at the same time.
- Relatively new technology. As digital wallets are rather new, many traditional retail outlets may not be comfortable accepting digital payments or have the necessary contactless payment technology set up.
What to watch out for
- Site legitimacy. When paying online with a digital wallet, ensure that the site that you’re logging into is an actual, verified website. If you input the login details of your digital wallet onto an unauthorised site, you risk losing access to all your banking details and expose yourself to the risk of fraudulent transactions. You can usually tell that a website is verified if it has a padlock icon to the left of your address bar.
- Digital wallet security. When creating your digital wallet account, use strong passwords and enable 2-factor authentication if possible. This way, you make it harder for an unauthorised individual to gain access to your digital wallet.