The Mobile Payment User Experience


Megha Gulati

I enjoy problem solving and seeing ideas come to life. I have a passion for architecting and implementing iOS/Android applications, and am an advocate for good engineering practices and great user experiences.

Updated May 9, 2016

The mobile in-app payment market is growing and all the main players have already shown up to the party: Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, and Samsung Pay, along with some smaller providers.

The reason is, according to Gartner, mobile purchases will be worth a total of $720 billion in transactions by 2017 — up from about $235 billion in 2014.

Currently, the big winners are Samsung and Google Wallet, with millions of transactions between them, and growing. Apple Pay is quickly engulfing market share in the U.S. because of easy thumb print verification, as compared to users having to remember and type in a code that is different from the phone’s security code. Apple Pay adds a layer of security on the purchase process, because credit card numbers are not exposed to the merchant. Instead, they are sent the device number, and a unique token that is only valid for that particular purchase. The convenience and increased security are making a difference in consumer choices.

But what about the vendors and THEIR user experience?

The In-App Vendor Experience

In the past, credit card companies (the only game in town before the mobile pay options) disregarded vendors as, “where the market goes, they will follow,” dragging merchants around by the nose as bank policies changed on a whim. Now that technology companies that understand user experience provide in-app purchases, the purchase process is easy for both consumers and vendors. A better experience for everyone makes them more money.

But first, before making a decision about what kind of payment process to use in an app, it is important that vendors first go through the App Store Review Guidelines, Google Guidelines, or Samsung Pay Guidelines. Also, here is some helpful information about Apple In-App Purchases.

The Nuts and Bolts…and other things sold with In-App Purchase

We’ll use Apple Pay as our example: If you are selling digital material, i.e. books, photos, additional game levels, magazine/newsletter subscriptions, or other content hosted on Apple servers, you are required to use their in-app purchase process. This type of policy varies across Apple Pay competitors.

On the other hand, if you are selling physical goods or services, Apple requires you to process and handle the payment yourself, or use 3rd party payment services like Stripe, Braintree,, Paypal, etc. This policy is quite similar across competitors.

Apple Pay can be used in combination with 3rd party payment services to make the checkout process faster, easier and secure for the user. Apple Pay users don’t need to re-enter the payment or contact information, because it uses the payment information stored in their device.

As Always, The Expense Is Passed To The Vendor

In-app purchase provides the functionality to process payments for offered items via the App Store and Mac App Store. If you use In-App purchase API’s, then the transaction will be handled by Apple and you will receive 70% of the purchase price of each item you sell in your app. To make an in-app purchase, the user will enter their Apple ID password or enabled Touch ID.

Based upon the purchase type, App developers should set up how payment information is processed with either the App Store or 3rd-party payment services. The App Store automatically tracks your purchases, but the developer can help you track your Apple purchases of non-digital goods by setting up a 3rd party app like the free Bottomline app. However, this is an extra step, because 3 rd party payment services usually offer some sort of purchase tracker, so during your research, look at tracking closely and see if any gaps need to be filled with other services.

What’s Coming?

Apple is planning to bring Apple Pay to Mac as well in the next couple of iterations, when the company figures out a secure user experience. Once they do that, users won’t have to type in their payment information while browsing on computers anymore. This will bring more strength to Apple, beyond the company’s current momentum.

When it comes down to it, the vendor experience is pretty good. Point of sale cash transactions are always the best, but in-app purchases with “one-click” user experiences for the consumer, auto-calculation for tax records and fees for vendors, along with purchase tracking, can reduce the amount of time needed for inventory, forecasting and tax filing.