So we’ve all heard about Apple Pay and Google Wallet by now, but what exactly are they and how do they differ. The short answer is they’re both ways to pay from your cell phone at brick-and-mortar stores – meaning you won’t have to swipe an actual credit or debit card. They have their nuances and differences, but for the most part, they’re “contactless” forms of payment that are about to change how we shop forever.

Google Wallet has been around for a few years while Apple Pay has just recently gone live in the new iteration of Apple’s flagship phone – the iPhone 6 and 6-Plus. While there are many small differences in the two payment methods, here’s a quick overview of the most notable ones:


  • NFC – Both are powered by Near Field Communication technology, meaning they don’t have to have contact with a POS terminal.
  • Debit and Credit – Both can host credit and debit cards, aside from some variations listed below.
  • Tokenization – Both also use tokenization, which is the randomization of authorization when submitting payment, something that current cards with magnetic stripes don’t have but the new standard of chip-and-PIN EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) does have (for more, click here)


  • Merchant access and visibility – this is probably the biggest and most important difference of the two
    • Apple Pay – Does not give any merchant access to consumers’ purchases
    • Google Wallet – Google can see payment history and purchases
  • Authorization – both use tokenization, but with different methods
    • Apple Pay – The customer hovers their iPhone 6 or 6-Plus above the NFC terminal and uses a tap of the screen, or fingerprint, to verify the payment
    • Google Wallet – The customer brings their Android device near the NFC terminal, wakes up their screen and types in a PIN number
  • Availability – as mentioned above, some differences in how you can use the two services differ
    • Apple Pay – Currently, you can only use Apple Pay on the current version of the iPhone – the 6 and 6-Plus
    • Google Wallet – For Non-NFC devices: anything running Android Gingerbread 2.3 or iOS6 (or higher) and for NFC devices: Android KitKat 4.4 or higher

So the conclusion we can draw from the early stages of these two payment options is the Apple Pay is a bit more practical at the POS terminal and keeps your information more private while Google Wallet takes a little more work but is available on many more devices as of today.

There will probably never be a clear-cut winner in this battle, but it will be fun to see the tweaks and adjustments made by Apple and Google in the coming years. Tell us what you think about NFC payment, Apple Pay and Google Wallet on Facebook and Twitter.