How mobile payment apps work and why you should download one

Mobile payment apps have been around for quite some time now, but the fear of spreading the COVID virus through touch has meant practically every restaurant in the world is now relying on contactless payment methods.

What is a mobile payment app?

A mobile payment app is an app that you download on your phone or tablet that is used specifically to make payments. When making a payment, you open the app, scan the QR code on your bill, and click pay. In South Africa, popular mobile payment apps include Zapper and SnapScan. Some companies such as FNB and Vodacom have also created mobile apps that allow you to scan any QR codes, so you don’t need to download multiple mobile payment apps.



How do mobile payment apps work?

One of the reasons some people aren’t comfortable using a mobile app to make a payment is because of fear of lack of security. But the truth is contactless payment methods are one of the most secure methods of transferring cash. They work by using near-field communication (NFC) technology. This allows encrypted data to be sent from the chip in one device to the chip of another device. They operate at a very specific frequency that only works when the two devices are within a certain range of each other. NFC readers are also able to communicate with only one device at a time, so there’s no danger of you accidentally paying for someone else’s order. 

What is the benefit of using one or more mobile payment apps?

There are many benefits to using Zapper, Snapscan or another mobile app, for both the customer and the restaurant:

  • As already mentioned, NFC technology and contactless payment methods are highly secure – much more secure than carrying cards or cash. Many mobile payment apps also include the feature of using fingerprint or facial recognition for added security, so even if your phone is stolen, it’s practically impossible for another person to access the app.
  • They’re super quick. Payments can literally be made in seconds because all you really need is to be in range of the NFC reader – there’s no need to enter passwords or wait for your waiter to come over with a card machine.
  • It’s convenient. You don’t have to carry around a bulky wallet or risk your credit card slipping out of your pocket. And, let’s face it, most of us never leave home without our cellphones, so if you decide to stop for a coffee after your morning run, you don’t have to stress about having left your wallet at home.
  • It’s safe. This has become highly important due to COVID as studies have shown that the virus can spread through touch, so more and more restaurants are requesting that diners pay using cashless methods.

Why we love the convenience of contactless payment

The quick and mobile nature of payment apps make them ideal for: 

  • paying for takeaway or delivery food,
  • buying food and drinks at outdoor markets, food trucks and festivals,
  • making small purchases, such a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, very quickly,
  • supporting small businesses: apps are an easier way to bank without investing in too much equipment and hardware,
  • tipping your server: some petrol stations and cafés have dedicated QR codes for sharing tips and gratuities with your server, without handling cash, and
  • apps are a great way to support local charities with small donations. 

Which payment app do you prefer to use? 

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