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June 04, 2020
3 minute read

An incidental benefit of digital wallets … contactless payment.

Written by Kaushal Sanghavi
phone contactless payment

When I joined Airbase as Director of Product Management, I was excited by the prospect of creating a spend management user experience that is second to none. This includes being responsive to new conditions and emerging requirements from our users. In response to the urgent need for businesses to make in-person transactions safer, we have prioritized the development of Airbase mobile payments using Google Pay and Apple Pay Digital Wallets. We are also adding Airbase contactless payment (NFC) cards to our offering. 

Digital wallet use is rising for personal and professional cards.

The convenience of a Digital Wallet is experienced by many people every day, and many are acquainted with the enhanced security Digital Wallets offer. Now, with a focus on contactless payments to help businesses operate more safely, we expect to see the adoption of this technology accelerate.

We’re particularly excited to offer Airbase cards for your Digital Wallet using either Apple Pay or Google Pay because it allows you to use your business card the same way that many of you are already using your personal cards. This aligns with one of our key goals, which is to make your B2B payment experience simple, intuitive, and adapted to the way that you live and work. 

The benefit of added security.


The benefits of mobile payments include convenience, efficiency, organization, and the elimination of paperwork, but one of the most important benefits of a Digital Wallet is security. With Apple Pay, users authenticate purchases using a PIN, Touch ID, or Face ID. Apple Watch users can tap the side of their watch to authenticate. With Google Pay, the device simply needs to be unlocked in order to verify a purchase. 

It’s safer in more ways than one. When you make a purchase using a mobile payment app, the merchant never gets access to any of your credit card details. This is because the app generates a unique token for each purchase, which is then verified by the card network. This approach protects the cardholder from credit card skimming tactics, or other risks of data theft, and compromised cards.

Mobile payments gaining traction.

payment terminal

Mobile payments made their first appearance as long ago as 1997, when Coca Cola designed a text-message-based payment system for soft drink vending machines during the Helsinki Olympics. However, it wasn’t until around 2015 that mobile payments, fueled by the massive adoption of smartphones, began to take off more widely. Apple Pay announced its Digital Wallet in October of 2014 and, about a year later, Android Pay (which became Google Pay in 2018) followed suit. 

Today there are over 25 different Digital Wallets. Some of them, like American Express and Mastercard, are from the card providers themselves, while others, like Walmart Pay, are retailer specific. Samsung Pay is the other large device-specific wallet, and some Digital Wallets are from payment card technology companies, like Stripe. Apple Pay and Google Pay are emerging as a market standard and are therefore the mobile payments platform we have chosen for Airbase payment cards

Contactless payment using NFC cards.

NCF card payment

In addition to the contact-free value of the Digital Wallet, there are also contactless payment cards gaining traction now that physical interactions with keypads, signature pens, or handing a card to a merchant to be swiped, are being shunned. The technology is based on RFID (radio frequency identification), or NFC (near field communication) that is built into the card itself. 

These cards can be waved near a contactless POS terminal capable of reading the card’s information so that a cardholder doesn’t need to touch a terminal or enter a PIN.

As payment options emerge, Airbase will be there.

Mobile payments make for a more streamlined, convenient, and secure payment method than conventional credit card or debit card purchases. Though the adoption of the technology to date has been relatively sluggish, we expect that the safety benefits of contactless payments will drive greater use by retailers and users alike. 

Our philosophy is that our spend management platform should be payment agnostic. That’s why Airbase supports both virtual cards and physical cards (whether in a Digital Wallet or not), plus ACH payments and checks – all from one platform. When new payment options inevitably arise, we’ll assess their benefit and the demand by our users, then, as appropriate, include them as part of our system.


To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
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