The Current

Apple Pay moves Canada towards a cashless society

Apple is bringing mobile payment systems to the mainstream - making it easy for people to pay with their smartphones. The Current explores why the beginning of the end of cold hard cash is a problem for many privacy and security experts.
Apple Inc. is making the U.K. the first market outside the U.S. for its digital-wallet system as the company fights for a place in the electronic-payments industry. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

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Apple is bringing mobile payment systems to the mainstream —  allowing customers to pay for purchases directly from their smartphones.

Recently, five major banks have partnered with Apple Pay to bring a cashless society to Canada. 

The Apple Pay system launched in the U.S. in 2014 and in Canada late last year, but hasn't had much pickup because big banks were reluctant to sign up - until now. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The payment process system involves a transfer of money from Apple to a financial institution to the vendor. All the customer has to do is wave their phone in front of a reader and a secure transaction takes place using encryption.

While some question how secure an Apple Pay transaction can be, technology commentator Jesse Hirsh sees the Apple tap-and-pay system as a great potential for security because of their fingerprint technology. 

"Security and trust is obviously a big component when it comes to choosing to use this kind of mobile technology. And Apple has been somewhat successful in both. Earning the trust of its customers," says Hirsh.

No wallet. No cash. No fuss.

But the convenience of this future of cash-free commerce has a cost, according to experts concerned about privacy and security. First they warn, the trust factor in the system that Apple is providing, as well as the data collection that is following consumer activity. 

Surveillance Studies Chair, David Murakam Wood is concerned about what this mobile payment system is taking from people using their digital wallets.

"We are giving over what was previously a public and accountable economic system to a private corporation. Which in itself raises huge questions not just about sovereignty but how accountable our money will now be to us."

Guests in this segment:

Do you dream of ditching your wallet and living cash-free?  Or, do you prefer the simplicity — and anonymity — of cold hard cash? 

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This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and Liz Hoath.