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Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet: Which is the better mobile payment system?

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Apple's Apple Pay, which lets iPhone users pay for items using Apple smartphones and iOS 8 devices is officially in play and hit a minor hurdle this week when some users were double billed during transactions.

That said, Apple's system is being called the game changer and the technology that will drive mobile smartphone payment into the mainstream, unlike Google's offering Google Wallet, which has been out in play for three years.

So we figured it was time to assess both mobile systems on good, bad and technical features. Which one do you think will win the mobile payment battle? Here's a rundown of what each offers.

Setup

On Apple devices users simply tap into Passbook and add a credit card or debit card, or choose to use the same payment method as used with iTunes. Some banks may have special steps for card authorization, but those should be fairly easy to navigate.

Setting up on Google Android devices is essentially the same for Google Play. Users can choose to input payment forms manually or simply take a photo of their  credit or debit card.

Ease of Use

On Apple devices, it is extremely easy to use Apple Pay. Near-field communications, or NFC, the data transmission technology behind the system, is always enabled so there is no need to toggle on or off the feature. Simply wait until the items have been rung up and then tap on the payment terminal. Users will then need to input their Touch ID.

On Google Play the experience may be a little different. Users first have to make sure that NFC is enabled, then unlock their device and tap it on the payment terminal.

There are a few more steps on Android devices than Apple devices, and while those steps will only take a few seconds it is clear Apple has put in the work to make sure that Apple Pay is faster and easier to use.

Carriers

When Apple announced Apple Pay, hundreds of banks, shops and more were listed as partners of the company. This included most major banks and card carriers such as American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Visa, Wells Fargo and more.

Google, on the other hand, boasts a much less extensive partner list. At launch the company only had one carrier, Citi, and one payment network, MasterCard. It did add Visa and American Express later on, but by then many users had already dismissed the system.

Privacy

Apple has been adamant that Apple Pay will not collect any purchase-related data and that privacy is a very important issue for the company. Google is a search company and it was likely the company launched the payment service with the hopes of collecting data about purchase behavior to serve more relevant ads.

Despite this, it's arguable whether that matters. To the general consumer, this will not affect how they pay for anything. Many have grown accustomed to seeing ads in exchange for a free service.

Security

Apple has taken great care to avoid any security issues with Apple Pay. The company has taken on some of the accountability for any fraud risk, but it is comfortable doing so because of Touch ID and the tokenization system that it uses. This tokenization essentially masks card information and it is transaction-specific, which makes transactions extremely protected against hackers.

While Google Wallet does use some level of tokenization, it is a cloud-based system and hence payment data is stored in servers rather than on a device. This introduces other risks, which may be small but are still there.

Conclusion

Both Apple Pay and Google Wallet are easy to use and effective mobile payment systems, but it seems as though Apple has come up with the better option for a number of reasons. Not only is Apple Pay easier to use, but it is also more secure and privacy-aware.

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