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What are mobile payments and how do they work?

Mobile payments allow you to pay for goods and services  from your smartphone without using cash or a physical credit card. Mobile payments work through a software that links your smartphone, smart watch, or tablet to your credit card or your bank account, either directly or through a payment service provider (PSP). Payment service providers and mobile payments are regulated by the EU to protect your data privacy and security. 

How do mobile payments work?

It’s easy to see how do mobile payments work by simply downloading an app or “mobile wallet” of your choosing onto your phone. After entering your credit card or debit card number, or bank account number, you will be ready to make mobile payments. Your financial data is protected by encryption software. The payments can be made from an online account, or directly from your main bank account, or card, depending on the app you chose.

Some mobile payment apps allow the user to simply tap their phone against a contactless credit card terminal at a store. You can also make cashless payments to people who have the same sort of mobile app on their phone. 

How do mobile payment systems work?

Apart from software and encryption, the “digital plumbing” that makes contactless mobile payments services run is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. NFC is a short range wireless technology similar to Bluetooth that makes it possible for two devices equipped with NFC held in close proximity to exchange information. Connection is immediate. Most new smartphones come with NFC already installed, and unlike Bluetooth, your device does not need to be “paired” to communicate. NFC is what powers mobile payment apps like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
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How many mobile payment systems there are?

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Mobile payments made by waving your mobile phone over a terminal have become increasingly popular in the wake of the pandemic, because they minimize human interaction. Mobile payments now comprise many different systems, including:  

  • Mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and many others, that offer contactless payments from a cell phone after loading your card or bank details 
  • Internet browsers that allow customers to enter their card or bank details into a website on their mobile phones to make an online purchase
  • App-based mobile payments that allow users to download a businesses’ own app and use it to make mobile payments. This is especially common in food and retail.

What are the advantages of using mobile payments?

There are three main mobile payment advantages that come from eliminating the need for a physical wallet, cards, and cash.

  • Safety:  clearly, not carrying around cash or cards means never having to worry about theft or leaving your purse or wallet behind. How mobile payment systems work always involves encryption. Your real card number is never stored on the device, and each transaction is protected by a fingerprint, face ID recognition, or an approval code.
  • Convenience: these systems make it easier to track your spending by providing a single monthly credit card or provider bill for all your transactions. Plus…leave your wallet at home!
  • Speed: no more swiping your card or fishing for your wallet. Contactless mobile phone payment systems let you whiz through the checkout line.  

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