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Financial Friday: Mobile Wallets – The Pros and Cons

Mobile Wallets come in many brands, most notably: Android Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and Samsung Pay. These apps let you pay for purchases online and at retail stores, often faster than with credit or debit cards, and without the hassle of carrying enough cash.

Betty Thorne, Stetson University

Betty Thorne, Ph.D.

Before setting up a wallet, set strong passwords for your online phone account and consider downloading anti-malware software for your phone (not available on all devices). Then, download the app to your phone and register your credit or debit card through the app. Some apps also take prepaid cards.

To pay, hold the phone up to a retailer’s card reader, and follow the instructions on your phone. When paying online, click the onscreen wallet button at checkout. Usually, there are no fees for using this app.

The Pros

Most wallets are widely accepted by U.S. merchants. These payments are often secured with extra encryption, making them safer in some ways than other forms of payment.

The Cons

As a consumer, you are protected by small- to zero-liability if your account is hacked or stolen. Additionally, wallets tend to work only on newer phones. When your phone battery is dead, you risk being stranded without money.

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., Stetson University professor

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D.

These apps also collect a lot of personal data on your purchases and finances, so, if privacy is an issue, you’re probably better off paying cash. Some apps use this information to send you customized ads and coupons.

Additional data charges may apply, especially if you shop a lot. Also, where payments are easier to make, people spend more. So, if you know that you have a tendency to overspend, you might want to avoid these apps.


Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., is Chair of the Accounting Department and associate professor of taxation and accounting. Betty Thorne, Ph.D., is a professor of statistics and the Christian R. Lindback Chair of Business Administration. They write Financial Fridays to bolster students’ financial wellness, including preventing financial mistakes, safeguarding their assets and identity, and thinking critically about financial decisions. For questions, contact Valrie Chambers at Valrie.chambers@stetson.edu.