Back in September, Apple introduced Apple Pay, a feature that allows users with an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay for things with their device rather than a credit card. While Apple is certainly making strides to make this feature a reality, they were not the first to come up with it. That belongs to Google Wallet. However, due to the inability to control Google Wallet’s features, phone carriers (specifically AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon) became concerned, and so came up with ISIS, who later changed their name to Softcard (to avoid confusion with the Middle East activist group). Due to the recent team up of Google Wallet and Softcard, we thought it would be a good idea to discuss Softcard.
This article is going to walk through what Softcard is exactly, and how you can use it with your Android phone to enhance your shopping experience. It may seem daunting and “futuristic”, but there really are some great advantages to using it, and it is much simpler than you might think.
To understand any of the aforementioned services (Apple Pay, Softcard, or Google Wallet), its first important to understand what NFC is. NFC is Near Field Communication. This technology allows to devices to communicate with each other without the need for a connection such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but rather just close proximity. This technology has actually been around for a while, most relevant in card keys to enter a building (the kind where you don’t swipe the card, but just tap it). It was reintroduced in Android phones (Nexus S) to allow communication with NFC tags. Later it was made popular with the Samsung Galaxy S III, shown in commercials like the one below (sorry for poor quality, only one I could find).
Google announced Google Wallet in 2011, which would utilize NFC, though unfortunately it never took off. So when Google Wallet wasn’t becoming popular, and there were security concerns, Softcard stepped in.
While Softcard uses the same technology as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, it requires “an enhanced SIM card” to provide better security. However, you still need a certain phone in order for it to work. If you want to see the phones that will work, check out this web page on Softcard’s website. Once you have the phone that’s approved, and the enhanced SIM card from your respective carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon), then you can download the following app:
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Once you have all those requirements, you have to input your card’s information that you want to be able to use with your phone. You can even enter Loyalty cards! Now, wherever you the symbol or pay pad like the ones in the picture below, there is no need to pull out your wallet. Just use your phone! I’ve done this a few times before, and it really is a kick, especially when you see the look on someone’s face who hasn’t seen it before.
If there is any other confusion, or you’re concerned about why you can’t use the phone you have, or would like to set this up, go to your carrier’s local walk-in store, and someone there will be sure to help you.