Our new Galaxy S7 phones support Android Pay. It’s one of a few competing standards out there, but thankfully it’s one of the big ones so it’s supported at a lot of stores. The concept is simple: you add your credit card info into the app and when you approach the credit card machine, you just tap your phone on it. Your phone will then ask you to authenticate the purchase and in our case, that’s just a thumbprint verification. It’s very convenient. The app can also be used to keep store loyalty cards. To use those, you just display the barcode in the app and have the cashier scan it.
Usually added convenience includes added risk, but in this case, it’s safer. The store gets a one time code that is linked to your account so if the store gets hacked, the number that the hackers get is useless.
It is true that your number is now in your phone but to use it, the hackers would have to figure out how to spoof your disk encryption and/or your thumbprint. And they’d have to do all that before you realized your phone was gone and wiped it remotely. I put that risk about equal or less than me losing my wallet and someone else finding my credit cards so I’m not too worried about it.