Paying for coffee by simply clicking a button and placing your smart watch or phone near a receiver seems like a far-fetched concept. But that’s what it’s like living in the future of now.

This sci-fi concept is a reality thanks to mobile payment platforms and apps, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and others. But are they safe?

According to UL’s Head of Cybersecurity Enablement Kevin Emery, contactless payments are less risky than payment with a physical credit card. Many of the different original equipment manufacturers behind smartphones have created different and secure ways to make sure your financial information stays safe and, more importantly, stays yours.

A big, big antenna

In fact, Emery prefers to pay for everything through his smart watch. Mobile payments make it difficult for someone to steal your information as it uses technology similar to what’s found in a Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chip, commonly found in debit and credit cards.

To “hack” or steal a wireless payment would require the thief to bump into the unsuspecting victim with a device capable of triggering a payment and reading the transmitted radio frequency signal. That itself is difficult to do, especially when considering the kind of bulky, conspicuous equipment — or as Emery puts it: “a big, big antenna” — that would be necessary to make it work.

Mobile payment protections

There are other protections that help reduce the risk for high-tech consumers, such as security triggers set around the payment amount and how many times per day a transfer can be initiated.

Even if someone steals your phone, certain features of the smartphone’s operating system act as a deterrent to thieves which helps keep your payment information safe. These features include a personal identification number (PIN) or something even more unique, such as a fingerprint scanner, or facial or iris recognition.

“If I leave my phone somewhere, I don’t worry about the information on my phone,” Emery said. “At least not as much as I would have a few years ago. Whether it’s payment information or an app to get into ‘Pokemon Go,’ it’s all the same. And it’s safe.”

It’s important to note that the information on your phone is different than a physical debit or credit card, because it doesn’t use credit card numbers, but rather tokens that disguise the information. If your card is lost or stolen, you can still use your phone or smart watch to make payments, providing another level of convenience. This is true because if someone steals the card information off your phone, they wouldn’t be able to use it to buy things online or create another physical card because the card information is encrypted.

So, the next time you leave your wallet or purse at home, you don’t have to worry. You can pay on the go using mobile payment technology with confidence.

SafeBee® Top Three:

1. Stealing mobile payment information would most likely require direct physical contact, making it difficult to pull off.

2. Phones contain built-in security features that can deter thieves.

3. Mobile payment apps can be used if a card is lost or stolen.