I had recently received my business insurance renewal policy and they told me about the convenient ways I can pay them, which were by cheque or credit card. I noticed the letter advised me there would be a 2.5% charge for using a credit card for payment. Immediately, I called the insurance company to ask why they are charging this extra percentage. I was advised that they are entitled to a service fee. I disagreed. So I made a phone call to the Canadian Consumer Affairs, and challenged this disagreement in question. Their response was interesting. It is not illegal, however, it is against the terms and conditions with the credit card company to increase a percentage against payment. Knowing this, I had to call the credit card company directly, and ask the question as to why I am getting charged 2.5% on top of my insurance fees.
To be fair, I called the insurance company to let them know that I was going to be filing a complaint, and challenging the 2.5% that they were applying against my existing policy. I was quickly given a direct link that did not apply any additional credit card fees. What I discovered is, if there is a charge on top of your fees, because you have chosen to pay by a credit card, they are in violation of the terms and conditions of their merchant account. This is only if your business has an exception disclosure and written approval from MasterCard, Visa or American Express, that allows you to charge an additional fee to anyone using a credit card.
As we become more technologically advanced, we will see more movement towards convenient ways for credit card payments using our smartphones. For example, I had a fortunate opportunity to sign up for “Samsung Pay” in the United States. As an incentive, I was encouraged to use Samsung Pay at the restaurant as they would give me a $5 discount upon signing up. Without hesitation, I signed up and was intrigued to find out how this would work. Although Samsung Pay is only available in the United States, I can use it to match my fingerprint, and it instantly links to my bank account. This made the payment seamless and easy. Needless to say, it got me so excited that I may not need to carry credit cards in the United States any longer. The process was simple. I scanned my bank card as it connected me instantly, and saved directly to my phone. Unfortunately though, this Samsung Pay app seems to only be compatible with the latest smartphones. It’s only a matter of time until we will all be using our smartphones easily and conveniently to make payments. Using your fingerprint, ris scanner or PIN number allows the ability to confirm the order. In Canada, similarly, Apple has just announced that American Express will work with Apple Pay through every major bank.
I prefer to use the Samsung Pay as it encrypts the information directly to the pay source. What I find interesting is that many merchants in Canada have NFC (Near Field Communication). With NFC, it gives us the ability with many smartphones to make a payment by simply entering a PIN on our devices. Unfortunately, our banking system has yet to completely catch up. This may be a good or bad thing. Just to confirm, these things need to be tested thoroughly before they can be implemented. While I was in the U.S. for dinner, I was intrigued that I was able to make payment for my meal at the table, on a console that looked very much like an iPad on a stand with a credit card swipe feature along the side of it. Again, an extremely convenient and efficient way to make a payment after your meal. The waitress could see with interest at how excited I was about making a payment with my phone. What blew my mind, was that she assumed Canada was way ahead in technology than the United States.
In another instance, the U.S is miles ahead because they promote their app for ordering, and viewing their menu – but even more… you can pay for your bill immediately through their app. I was at the Cheesecake Factory recently and in this case, I downloaded their app, Cakepay. This simple app was amazing, as I loaded it, added my credit card and it gave me a 4 digit code. When the waitress came to the table, I gave her the number. She then added it to the system, and I could see my bill, add what I wanted to order to it, and was able to pay my bill quickly and efficiently.
Canada is catching up, but still a few years behind on this technology. I had written an article earlier about making deposits with my smartphone by taking a picture of a cheque in the United States. It only took three years until it was finally rolled out into Canada. Therefore, in about three years from now, you will not have a plastic credit card. You will be using your smartphone to confirm your identity by applying your fingerprints, scanning your eyes with an iris scanner, and linking to your bank account in order to make easy and simple payments, anywhere you want to go.
Just a note though…don’t lose your phone! If you do, make sure you put a tracking, lockdown code on it. More on that in the next issue!