What if I use a mobile lot

Paying with the smartphone - how does it work?

Where can I pay with my smartphone?

The list of large and sometimes smaller retail chains and shops where you can pay with your smartphone is getting longer and longer. Shops in Germany that accept card payments have equipped their cash registers with NFC readers since 2015. NFC ("Nearfield Communication") is the technical standard that has established itself in contactless payment. And it also works with the smartphone.

How do I pay with my smartphone?

Mobile payment with a smartphone works in a similar way to contactless payment with an NFC-enabled bank card. To do this, you need an app with which the payment process is carried out at the checkout. You must have either topped up this app with money beforehand or connected it to another means of payment. There are the following options:

  • Prepaid cards: You can buy a prepaid card - for example for Google Pay - at points of sale such as a drugstore and then enter a code in the app. Then you can use the credit for shopping.
  • Credit cards: You can store credit card details in the payment app. The app then works just like a credit card.
  • Direct debits: In some apps it is possible to save your own current account. The resulting amounts are then simply debited from the account.

Once you have set up this function, simply hold your smartphone directly up to the reader in the shop. The device may ask for a PIN, ask for confirmation by means of a fingerprint or face recognition. When that's done, you've paid with your smartphone.

Can my cell phone do that at all?

Only smartphones that have an NFC chip can also use NFC apps. Such a chip is standard equipment on newer smartphones. You can easily check for yourself whether your smartphone can do this, for example with Android smartphones: Go to the settings of your device and search for the item "NFC".

Apple iPhones have had an NFC chip on board since the iPhone 6 model. In the system settings, however, there is no way to switch this chip on or off.

To pay, the smartphone transfers the necessary payment data directly from the provider's server. The actual credit card number is not used, just a term derived from it, a so-called token. This token is a placeholder, for example, for the credit card number in plain text.

If you want to pay with your smartphone, you can only do so if the device is ready for use. The battery must not be empty. An active connection to the Internet, whether via WLAN or cellular network, is not always required for payment. The app that you use to pay must, however, regularly connect to the provider's servers.

What about data protection?

If you pay with your smartphone via the app, you may inform the provider of the app about your purchasing behavior. Depending on whether you use the service of a credit institute, a payment service provider or a trading company, other companies can find out about your payment transactions. These can be analysis companies, for example, who create user profiles from your shopping behavior in order to also place targeted advertising from third parties.

The data protection notices of the providers must explain in detail what happens to your personal data. Apps published by your credit institution have the clear advantage that banks are usually not interested in your shopping behavior. However, this does not exclude with certainty that data is evaluated for advertising purposes.

Overall, the following applies: You only remain completely anonymous when paying with cash.