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Apple Pay is now officially live in Canada - does this mean we'll actually start using our phones to pay at the till? Canadians have been notoriously slow to take to mobile payments, despite the retailer technology being widely available - but the tech giant might just have enough brand clout to shift the herd. With Apple Pay currently only available for use with American Express cards, there's plenty of room for competitors to capitalize on the mobile payment market - especially for shoppers who don't carry an Apple device.

Meet the Competition

Believe it or not, Apple Pay is far from the first to market in Canada; Suretap has actually been the leading mobile wallet provider north of the border, and it has added a points system to the mix. Powered by the Points Loyalty Commerce Platform, Suretap users are able to earn reward points as they spend - the first mobile wallet to offer such a feature. With the Points Loyalty Commerce Platform users can store their points cards “inside” their mobile wallet, eliminating all use of physical cards altogether. The idea is that you will never run into the situation where you left your rewards card at home when you need it. Another contender is rewards and payment mobile wallet UGO, which stores loyalty cards, gift cards, and payment cards in one place. To redeem rewards at the till simply pull up the desired card from the list on your phone and have the cashier scan the barcode. With the implementation of the Points reward system, it’s actually easier than ever to exchange points between rewards programs. By having all of your program accounts located on your mobile device, you can arrange and organize your balances based on preference and/or priority of point collection.

How Do Mobile Payments Work?

Using Near Field Technology (NFC) that already exists in smartphones, users are able to make purchases with their phone by tapping on a terminal at check out. Suretap is the first in Canada to offer this service to Android and BlackBerry owners, as well as the first to offer a majority of the leading lender’s cards. Merchants do not need a separate terminal for purchases made through a mobile wallet, as the existing tap-to-pay terminals will work.

Are Mobile Wallets Secure?

These are third-party applications that use your financial information directly, so protection against fraud is of utmost concern for providers. For example, Suretap uses what it calls “fail-safe mechanisms”, claiming that you will be safer using a mobile wallet than your actual physical wallet. Theoretically, I suppose the fewer items you carry with you, the less of a chance you will forget or lose something!

What Phones Are They Compatible With?

Apple Pay: Those with an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch and carry an American Express are in luck; everyone else needs to wait until Apple cuts a deal with Visa, Mastercard, and Canada's other lenders.

Suretap: Currently only available via Android and BlackBerry

UGO: Available via the Apple App Store, Google Play and BlackBerry App World.

Derek Nicholson

Derek is in his fourth year of the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Humber College, working as an intern with the marketing team at RATESDOTCA over the summer. As his first foray into the world of personal finance, he hopes to expand and further develop his understanding while offering insight from a student's perspective.

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