The Continued Rise of Mobile Payments

With the rapid advancements happening in the payments marketspace, it can be challenging to keep track of the latest FinTech driving our payment solutions. We have prepared a “cheat-sheet” that covers all of the basics and how these technologies work together:

What is EMV?

“EMV” stands for “Europay, Visa, Mastercard.” This technology uses encrypted chips to reduce instances of fraud. There are two types of chips: Contact Chips, which are embedded within a payment card to be inserted into a card reader at a point-of-sale, and Contactless Chips that use NFC (Near Field Communication) technology to process payments made by mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay (“The Pays”).

What is Tokenization?

Tokenization is the technology that replaces actual cardholder data with a “token,” or a random, unique number that cannot be reused and is generated for a specific transaction. This important feature ensures that mobile wallets and EMV chips are extremely secure means of payment by never transmitting an actual card number to the merchant, whether used online, in-store, or in-app. On the member-facing side, the process is seamless, operating in the background of their app or during the chip data transmission at a point-of-sale.

“The Pays”

The most common mobile wallets are collectively referred to as “The Pays” and include Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. These convenient payment options allow members to download the app that corresponds to their mobile device and add their debit and credit cards to their mobile wallet. The advantage to credit unions in marketing The Pays and their card together is that they can be set as the top-of-wallet, or default payment method, in the app.

Using The Pays is easy and convenient. When paying in the store, an NFC-enabled terminal will allow appholders to hold their mobile device up to the terminal to make a payment without a card present. Online, the app allows for integrated payments without inputting a card number. In either instance, the card number is randomized through tokenization, making this an extremely secure payment method.

Connecting EMV, Tokenization, and The Pays

The Pays and EMV use tokenization to securely randomize sensitive cardholder data. As these technologies continue to become more and more well known, adoption rates are increasing, on point with early predictions. As merchants continue to advertise and are enabled to accept these payment methods, cardholders are driven to financial institutions who offer these services.

Other countries that have implemented EMV technology experienced a significant increase in card-not-present fraud. “The Pays” have expanded their service offering to include e-commerce transactions which could limit the fraud exposure for the credit unions that offer this service. This extension has provided:

  • Increased security and reduced fraud
  • Lessened the inconvenience and cost of a lost/stolen card
  • Advanced digital and mobile payments

We are seeing enhancements to the latest payment methods such as EMV and tokenization. Some items that have recently been introduced include features that further protect cardholder information for e-commerce transactions, the ability for a cardholder to access cash at ATM terminals without a physical plastic card, and continued enhancements to card control apps.

Knowledge is Power

As a sample of mobile wallets, according to survey conducted by, 53% of those surveyed have not yet tried Apple Pay yet due to a lack of awareness and/or understanding:

  • 25.7% were not familiar with how Apple Pay works
  • 20.5% have security concerns about Apple Pay
  • 3.8% had not heard about Apple Pay prior to the survey
  • 2% tried registering for Apple Pay, but it didn’t work

Meanwhile, for those who had adopted and were using Apple Pay, 41.6% used it anytime they remembered it was an option, and 21.3% reported using it every chance they could.

How can there be such opposing ends of the spectrum? It all comes down to education. Whether Apple Pay or any of “The Pays,” member and staff education is key to the continued growth of mobile wallets in the marketspace. Synergent Direct Marketing Services has comprehensive resources available to its credit union partners and is ready to help your credit union educate staff and spread the word about EMV, tokenization, and The Pays to your members.