Microsoft’s Mobile Payment Solution Falls Short in Early Testing

Posted on June 24, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile, Windows Phones with 0

Microsoft's Mobile Payment Solution Falls Short in Early Testing

Earlier this week, Microsoft began rolling out a new version of its Wallet app for Windows 10 Mobile devices, adding support for Tap to Pay mobile payments. This is good news, but credit card support is currently lacking, rendering the feature useless for many.

To be fair to Microsoft, Tap to Pay support in Windows 10 Mobile is currently available only to Windows Insiders. That means that it won’t be a real world OS feature until the Anniversary update ships on or around July 29, bringing Windows 10 Mobile to version 1607.

By that time, hopefully, more credit and debit cards will be supported. Today, the list is eclectic and pretty short: Bank of America and US Bank are the only major banks supported, while BECU (a Boeing credit union), First Tech, Fifth Third Bank, People’s United Bank, and Virginia Credit Union round are bringing up the rear.

I don’t have any credit or debit cards from those banks. I do have two Chase VISA cards for some reason, but Chase is listed as “coming soon.” But I scanned in six cards—one debit, five credit—just in case. None worked.

That changed my focus, as I was originally going to go out into the world, find a place that wouldn’t mind letting me take a few photos, and actually test this feature in the real world. But with that not happening, I decided to see how Microsoft Wallet compared to competing offerings from Apple and Google.

Apple Pay won handily: It works with all 5 of my credit cards, though it did not support my debit card (which comes from a small local bank, so no surprise there). Cards from Citi, Barclays, American Express, and two from Chase all worked. Two of the cards—Barclays and Citi—required me to call the institutions and answer security questions, and the Barclay call turned into a somewhat amusing interview that took quite a while. I guess they’re serious about security.

This is what "it just works" looks like.

This is what “it just works” looks like.

Windows 10 Mobile, as noted was a disaster: None of the six cards worked, though each was added in turn to my Microsoft account, so I now have numerous choices when I buy content from Microsoft online.

Typical Windows 10 Mobile experience.

Typical Windows 10 Mobile experience.

But here’s some good news for Windows phone fans: Android Pay coughed up an air ball too. None of my cards worked. Not the debit card. And none of the credit cards. That actually surprised me.

Posting the results on Twitter as they occurred earlier today, some inquired why Apple was so far ahead. Here, I think the Apple magic is paying off: Banks and credit card companies are eager to work with Apple, and they’ve jumped on board quickly. But that doesn’t explain Android Pay. With many more Android users, you’d think these institutions would want access to that audience too.

From an availability perspective, Tap to Pay seems like a winner in that it should work in the most places and have the best support among mobile platforms. But … Apple is Apple. You see Apple Pay in a growing list of stores and other locations, and of course you can use Tap to Pay with your iPhone too. Time to market may help as well. That said, both Apple, Google and Microsoft all claim that their systems work in over one million locations across the U.S.

Some also asked why anyone would bother with phone-based mobile payments. After all, we’re still going to be carrying wallets and purses for the foreseeable future. Here, I’ll admit that I very rarely make mobile payments, even though I carry an iPhone, which has the best coverage. But that’s probably more habit than common sense: Both Apple Pay and Tap to Pay authorize payments from your accounts without giving your account number to the retailer. And because your modern iPhone or Nexus/Android phone is protected with a fingerprint reader, the transaction is further secured. Put simply, mobile payments are much more secure than using a credit card, especially here in the U.S. where fraud is all too common.

Anyway, it’s early days yet for Microsoft Wallet with Tap to Pay on Windows 10 Mobile. And when Chase support does arrive in the near future, I’ll head out into the world and start buying stuff. Until then, it’s back to the traditional wallet for me.