The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Secure card information

March 20, 2023

It is often the case that those of older generations worry about the security of Apple and Google Pay, while the younger generations don’t. 

“I think that Apple Pay is pretty safe since there are no card numbers,” Bianchi said. “I trust the products and the process.”

Although it isn’t a worry for some, no worries are necessary. Both methods of touchless payment are incredibly secure and use different systems such as encryption and tokenization.

A user’s card details are provided only once in both services, during the initial setup. However, Google actually stores your information while Apple is merely the messenger.

I think that Apple Pay is pretty safe, since there are no card numbers. I trust the products and the process.

— Delfina Bianchi

When a card is added to a user’s Apple Wallet, they send the information to its issuing bank. The bank replaces the card details with a device and card-specific token known as the Device Account Number (DAN).

A DAN structurally resembles a credit card number and is used to pass information through various wireless networks without the actual card details being exposed. The number is stored on a user’s device so it can’t be extracted into anything valuable to fraudsters. The actual bank account number is held safe in a secure, online token vault.

In short, the card data is encrypted at its origin, Apple Wallet, and passed through systems until decrypted at its end destination, the merchant. 

This process requires the company to negotiate deals with banks to get them to sign up for its service. It limits the number of cards that are compatible with Apple Pay, although not by much. 

Google Pay, however, is different. When a card is set up, Google Pay issues a virtual card to the device for each card that is put in. Google then takes the information and stores it in its secure servers while replacing the virtual card with its own generated algorithm.

This is a benefit for Google Pay users, as it allows you to store whatever type of card you’d like, and it doesn’t have to be connected to a bank, so a gift card or loyalty card would work as well.

When a customer uses Google Pay, they’re paying with a virtual card that their device transmits using the previously mentioned NFC technology. After the Google Pay virtual card gets charged by the merchant, Google copies the details of the transaction and charges the stored card itself. This way, the seller never sees the real card.

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