Since it absorbed mobile wallet Paymit, the Twint app is the only major mobile wallet which is owned and operated by Swiss financial services providers. It can be used to pay at online stores and at point of sale terminals.
Pros: The app can be linked directly to private accounts at Credit Suisse, Postfinance, UBS, Raiffeisen, Zürcher Kantonalbank and Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (compare Swiss private accounts here). No matter which Swiss bank you work with, you can use Twint on a prepaid basis. Twint can be used with most smartphones, including budget phones. As a Swiss company, Twint AG is subject to Swiss privacy and consumer protection laws. Another benefit is that unless you link your account to a credit card (only possible with UBS Twint), the shops and restaurants you frequent pay lower fees to accept your payment than when you use credit cards to pay.
Cons: Fast contactless payments using Twint are only possible at terminals which have a special Twint beacon. You can use Twint to pay at other merchants, but this involves capturing a QR code which is somewhat tedious. Another disadvantage is that the current version of Twint is not accepted outside of Switzerland at all. Twint is also somewhat fragmented, with different banks offering their customized versions in addition to the standard prepaid app.
The popularity of Apple’s iPhone in Switzerland gave the U.S. tech giant a captive audience for its entry into the Swiss financial market. It is fair to say that Apple Pay is the driving force behind the mobile wallet hype, but lets take a look at the pros and cons of the app.
Pros: The fact that recent models of the iPhone and Apple Pay are designed for each other allows for a very smooth user experience. Whether you are paying at a point of sale (POS) terminal or online, Apple Pay provides ease of use and good integration into Apple services. A number of Swiss payment cards can be used with Apple Pay, including cards from Bonus Card, Cornèrcard, Swiss Bankers and Swisscard (only certain cards).
Cons: Use of Apple Pay is limited to point of sale terminals with near field communication (NFC) technology which largely limits its use to big corporate retailers – even in Switzerland. In order to use Apple Pay, you need to use a credit card or prepaid card – which may have an annual fee and generates high costs for the stores and restaurants you visit. The number of Swiss credit cards which can be used with Apple Pay is limited, as shown in the moneyland.ch credit card comparison. As a foreign company, Apple is not regulated by Swiss privacy and consumer protection laws. Apple Pay can only be used with Apple devices, which are generally expensive.
Samsung Pay has generally rode in the wake of Apple Pay, and the same holds true in Switzerland – with the mobile wallet being launched much later than its U.S. rival. But the newcomer from South Korea brings some interesting ideas to the table.
Pros: Samsung developed its recent phones to integrate seamlessly with Samsung Pay, and the result is a smooth user experience not unlike that enjoyed by Apple Pay users. However, the only real outstanding benefit of Samsung Pay is its magnetic secure transmission technology which simulates the magnetic strip used by credit cards and debit cards. This lets you use Samsung Pay at a lot of merchants – including small merchants – because the vast majority of POS terminals are equipped with magnetic strip readers.
Cons: Samsung Pay only works with newer Samsung phones, and these phones are generally expensive. You need a credit card or prepaid card to use Samsung Pay, and only credit cards from a limited number of issuers (Bonus Card and Cornèrcard) can be used at this point. As a foreign company, Samsung is not regulated by Swiss privacy and consumer protection laws, which opens a number of questions as to where data collected by the app is stored and how it can be used.
The Alipay app from Ant Financial, the financial arm of China’s Internet giant Alibaba is not widely used by Swiss mobile wallet users. But thanks to its leading position in China it has drawn the attention of Swiss merchant acquirers SIX and Concardis. Although these merchant acquirers primarily aim to make the app available to businesses which deal with Chinese tourists, the acceptance of the app in Switzerland makes it a contender in the Swiss mobile wallet space.
Pros: Alipay can be used with most smartphones, including android devices and iPhones, which makes it an interesting option for people who do not use Apple or Samsung phones. In addition to POS payments, the app also enables peer to peer (P2P) money transfers. If you travel to China regularly, you will benefit from Alipay’s wide acceptance in that country.
Cons: Aside from being accepted at some merchants, Alipay is not yet up and running in Switzerland in that you cannot link it to Swiss bank accounts and credit cards. So unless you have a bank account in China, Alipay won’t do you a lot of good for the time being. The QR code/barcode-based system is somewhat tedious compared to the integrated experience you get with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. While Alipay’s many features open a lot of possible use cases, they tend to complicate the overall user experience.
In spite of the less integrated user experience you get with Twint, the Swiss app beats out all competition in its integration with Swiss banks. However, Samsung Pay users benefit from the best overall acceptance thanks to the fact that the wallet can be used at almost any POS terminal which accepts magnetic strip payment cards.