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Posted March 2, 2021


Question for you: What *can’t* we do with our smartphones?

We communicate, bank, watch sports, shop online, and manage benefits from devices that are on us (or nearby) at all times. 

That is why we are excited to announce one more way for you to help participants take advantage of their smartphone when it comes to their benefits: Introducing mobile payments from WEX! It’s the latest product update that makes it easy for you to ensure contactless, fast, and more secure payments for your participants.

With mobile payments from WEX, participants can:

  • Take advantage of contactless payments. Mobile payments = contactless! It’s the future of payments, and it means less germs, faster (and more secure) purchases, and a better user experience for participants.
  • Add their benefits debit card to their mobile wallet. Whether your participant uses Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay, they can quickly add their benefits debit card to their mobile wallet with just a few taps on their device.
  • Access their benefits debit card via mobile wallet to pay for eligible expenses. No more card fumbling! With mobile payments, participants don’t need to use (or even bring) their benefits debit card when they pay for eligible expenses. Their card will be accessible (alongside the rest of their credit or debit cards) in their mobile wallet.  

Keep on reading to learn more about how:

  • Mobile payments are increasingly popular and how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated growth. 
  • Mobile payments are faster, more secure, and contactless.
  • Trends show this type of payment will soon be needed for some commuter benefits participants.

Payment habits are evolving

In the last two years, debit cards have replaced cash as the preferred method of payment for American consumers. And while that change has been years in the making, the way consumers are using their debit cards is changing dramatically. In 2014, Apple released Apple Pay, which is a digital wallet service that can be accessed in a variety of ways through Apple-supported devices. Google (Google Pay) and Samsung (Samsung Pay) soon followed.

mobile payments benefits

The adoption of digital wallets is starting to take hold, accounting for about 3 percent of all U.S. point-of-sale transactions. And 35 percent of digital wallet users are millennials. 

The pandemic is accelerating change

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our lives in so many ways. Oftentimes, the pandemic’s impact on our day-to-day was to take the ways that technology was already integrating into our lives and accelerated that integration. That makes sense, considering the need for all of us to social distance to reduce the COVID-19 spread in our communities. Technology keeps us connected, even when physically disconnected. 

digital wallets benefits

Contactless payments have also increased dramatically during the pandemic. In an April survey of consumers in 19 countries, Mastercard found that a whopping 79 percent of respondents said they were making purchases via contactless payments. Mastercard also found that contactless transactions increased globally by 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020. 

Merchants, retailers take notice

Not surprisingly, the number of merchants accepting digital wallets and other forms of contactless payment has also grown rapidly. Over two-thirds of retailers now accept some form of contactless payment. And the number of retailers that will accept contactless cards from a digital wallet is at 58 percent, which is up from 40 percent just last year. 

digital wallets benefits

We were already seeing this digital wallet transformation take place in the employee benefits space, specifically when it comes to commuter benefits. The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in New York City. MTA is rolling out OMNY, which is a new fare payment system that lets commuters pay for MTA fares with digital wallets or contactless cards. All New York City stations were equipped with the OMNY technology to support digital wallets. By 2023, MTA will have completely phased out MetroCards.

Securing the experience

Mobile payments. Are they fast? Yes. Do they help us distance? Yes. Are they secure? In the eyes of consumers, the security stigma is real. A Pew study last year found that consumers were more likely to feel mobile payments are less secure than pre-paying or making purchases with a debit or credit card. 

digital wallets benefits

We’ve kept security top of mind once again as we’ve introduced mobile payments for our debit card. In order to add our debit card into a digital wallet, the participant needs to complete a one-time passcode authentication process. If they have an email address and/or phone number on file with us, the passcode will be sent to one of those two options. If they don’t, they’ll be prompted to call a phone number to confirm their identity. 

Should a participant’s cell phone be lost or stolen, they can contact us by phone or notify us in their online account that their debit card has been lost/stolen, just like they would if their physical debit card was missing. 

How does mobile payments work with our benefits?

Once a participant has added the benefits debit card to their digital wallet, paying for eligible expenses is easy. When their benefits debit card is set as your default card within Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay, then they can simply place the back of your phone against the contactless payment reader at eligible merchants. 

If their benefits debit card is not your default payment, then they’ll need to have their digital wallet app open at the point of sale. With their benefits debit card open within the digital wallet, place the back of your phone over the contactless payment reader. The benefits debit card will recognize which expenses are eligible and only pay for these expenses (just like when using a physical debit card).

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The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.


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