A digital wallet (also known as an e-wallet) electronically stores the contents of a traditional wallet. This means your credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards can all be held within your digital wallet. “Mobile wallets” are a type of digital wallet that store information on mobile devices, usually in an app. Google Pay, Apple Pay and Alipay all offer mobile wallet functionality.
Google Pay is a combination of what was formerly Android Pay and Google Wallet.
By unifying these two platforms, Google has created a digital wallet with mobile payment capabilities.
To use Google Pay you’ll need to:
Make a Google account. Signing up to Google gives you access to Google services including Gmail and Google Drive, as well as Google Pay. If you already have a Google account, you should already be able to access Google Pay.
Download the Google Pay app. If you want to use the mobile payment feature, you’ll need to download Google Pay onto your device.
Sign in with your Google account. Sign in to your Google account, either on your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.
Link your card. Once you’re signed in, you’ll be able to link a card, or cards, to Google Pay. While the majority or cards support mobile payments through Google Pay, some don’t, so be sure to check the compatibility of your card.
Go shopping. You can use your Google Pay account online with any device and in-store through your Android mobile device.
Where can I use Google Pay?
There are a number of merchants in Singapore that accept Google Pay, including fashion retailers, hospitality services and cinema complexes. You will also be able to use Google Pay at online shopping sites that offer the service.
Apple Pay requires you to download an app and fill in your desired card details.
If you want to shop in-store, you’ll need an Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
To use Apple Pay you’ll need to:
Have an eligible Apple device. Apple Pay is only compatible with Apple products including iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches or Mac computers with Touch ID.
Have an Apple ID and sign in to iCloud. You’ll need an Apple ID in order to use Apple Pay. This adds a layer of protection to your card.
Add a card. Go to the “Wallet” app and add your card. Your bank may have extra verification steps at this point in the process. Not all cards are compatible with mobile payments, so be sure to check yours is.
Go shopping. If you’re going shopping in-store, you’ll only be able to use your iPhone or Apple Watch. If you’re shopping within a vendor’s app you’ll also be able to use an iPad. For purchases made on the web, you’ll be able to use a Mac model with Touch ID.
Where can I use Apple Pay?
You can use Apple Pay in stores and online. There are a number of merchants in Singapore that accept payments from iPhones and Apple Watches through Apple Pay, including fashion retailers, hospitality services and cinema complexes.
Alipay is the largest digital wallet in China with over 850 million users.
Alipay is not yet available for Singaporean users. However, the company plans to open up Singaporean services in the future. Chinese expats and holiday-goers can make payments by using Alipay in Singapore, as long as they sign up with a Chinese bank account.
To use Alipay you’ll need to:
Have access to a Chinese bank account. If you don’t have a Chinese bank account, you can’t currently use Alipay.
Create an Alipay account. Once you have a compatible bank card, you can link the card to an Alipay account. You can create an account online and follow the prompts to add your chosen card.
Download the Alipay app. You can download the app onto your mobile device. When shopping, a QR code for every purchase appears on the Alipay payment page. Use your mobile device to scan the code, then enter your password to complete your purchase.
Log in using your account details. This function allows you to use Alipay without needing a mobile device and is best suited for use on desktop computers. When you’re directed to the Alipay payment page, simply log in with your account details in order to make a payment.
Where can I use Alipay?
Many taxi companies and vendors around Chinatown accept payments from Alipay.
Pros and cons
Google Pay, Apple Pay and Alipay are each tailored towards different demographics and users.
Anyone can set up an account
Only Android users can make in-store purchases
Can be used easily with a range of Apple products
Requires a compatible Apple device
One of the most popular mobile wallets in the world
Not yet available for Singaporean customers without Chinese bank accounts
Which service to choose will most likely depend on the device you have and the compatibility of your bank card.
Apple Pay, Google Pay and Alipay all offer security systems to ensure your financial information is protected.
Google Pay security
Google Pay creates an encrypted virtual account number that represents your card. This means your card details are not stored on your phone or on the Google Pay app. Your card details will not be sent to the vendor when you make a purchase.
If your phone is lost or stolen, you can lock or wipe your phone remotely to ensure your card is not used by another person.
Apple Pay security
Apple pay relies on fingerprint and facial recognition in order to provide an added layer of security for your card. If you’re using an Apple Watch, you’ll be asked to set a passcode that you’ll need to enter before each purchase.
Apple uses a device-specific number and unique transaction code for every purchase made through Apple Pay. This means your card information is not stored on Apple servers or your device, and is not shared with merchants when making a purchase.
Alipay has a number of measures in place to ensure consumer security. User information is encoded as a basic protection method, while extra layers of security are offered in the form of SMS verification codes, account security questions and digital certificates.
Frequently asked questions
Payments are processed by using near field communication (NFC), which creates a bridge between your device and the payment terminal. This is the same sort of technology used by contactless plastic bank cards.
Each service allows you to delete a card. In general, you should easily be able to go into settings and select “Delete a card”.
Yes, as long as the vendor offers mobile payment processing. No matter how many cards you have linked to your Apple Pay or Google Pay account, you need the sellers to come to the party. Some countries have been much faster at accepting payments from mobiles than others. If you’re travelling, do a bit of research to see whether you’ll need cash or not.
Images: Getty Images, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Alipay
Jacob Stern was a writer for Finder, specialising in consumer comparisons. Jacob has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Teaching in Secondary Education from the University of Technology Sydney.
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