How to pay with your phone or watch in Europe?

Contactless payment with a smartphone or connected watch is becoming increasingly common. Using a mobile payment application, offered by your bank or the manufacturer of your phone or watch, downloaded onto your device, allows you to register your bank card numbers and to pay for purchases in France and abroad. But how does contactless mobile payment work? Is there a payment limit? What are the risks? Find out in this article.


How does mobile payment work?

To be able to pay with a smartphone or a connected watch in the EU, you must first check whether your device is equipped with an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip. This technology allows data to be exchanged as soon as you bring your mobile phone or watch close to the payment terminal of the trader.

Attention, pour des voyages aux Etats-Unis, votre appareil devra être équipé d’une autre technologie qui imite la bande magnétique MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission).

Ensuite, vous devez choisir une application de paiement. Toutes les grandes banques, banques en ligne ou néobanques, françaises comme européennes, en proposent. Les fabricants de smartphone et de montre connectée ont eux aussi leurs applications. Comparez les offres et les services avant de vous décider.

Please note that for travels to the USA, your device will need to be equipped with another technology allowing to use MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission).

Next, you must choose a payment application. All the major banks, online banks and neo-banks, both French and European, offer them. Smartphone and connected watch manufacturers also have their applications. Compare the offers and services before deciding.

Once the application is installed, add one or more bank cards, scan your bank card(s) or enter the numbers manually, select the card to make purchases, agree to the terms of use and accept the authentication request sent by your bank.

Before each possible contactless payment, you must authenticate yourself (fingerprint, code, etc.), select the card registered in the application and bring your device close to the terminal. And it works even when the smartphone is not connected to a network or Wi-Fi.

Mobile payment by QR Code

In addition to NFC technology, there is contactless payment by QR Code. If your payment application offers this and if the merchant has a cash register or payment terminal that can display a QR Code, you can validate a payment by scanning the QR Code.

In which shops can you pay with a smartphone or a watch?

In principle, it is possible to pay with your smartphone or your connected watch in all shops, in France and abroad, that offer contactless payment by bank card. Do not hesitate to ask the shopkeeper before making your purchases. Restrictions may sometimes exist for watches.


No payment limit

Unlike contactless payment by bank card, which is limited to 50 euros per payment, payment with a smartphone or connected watch has no ceiling.

In fact, connecting to a phone designated as a trusted device and using biometrics or a secret code to validate a payment via the application meets the requirements of strong customer authentication imposed by Europe to secure payments. It is therefore possible to pay with a phone or a watch for purchases of 100, 200 euros or more.

Please note! For large sums of money or for operations considered risky by your bank, your confidential code or a password may be required in addition to your traditional authentication (biometrics, secret code, etc.). Consult your bank's general terms and conditions for more information.

Is there a fee for mobile payment?

No. Mobile contactless payment often does not involve any fees.

But find out :

  • the fees charged by your bank, especially for purchases outside the euro zone,
  • the number of payments authorised per day, per week and per month,
  • any limits you have set yourself in the payment application.

Are there any advantages to paying with your smartphone or connected watch?

Mobile payment applications offer other associated services such as payment history, detailed purchase information, dematerialised tips, instant payments between individuals, promotional offers, etc.

Some phone manufacturers offer a "wallet" system where you can store your various payment cards as well as your loyalty cards, restaurant tickets, train tickets etc.

Compare the services offered by each application before deciding.


Is it risky to pay with your smartphone or watch?

Contactless mobile payment is secured by authentication methods that are difficult to reproduce (fingerprint, face shape, voice recognition etc.). It is therefore difficult for a person to pay with a smartphone that is not their own.


Beware of fraud!

Some scammers do not hesitate to call or text consumers by masking their identity and pretending to be a trusted person. This is known as "spoofing" or "smishing" (phishing by sms). In such frauds, the victim, believing that they are talking to their bank by phone or SMS, for example, agrees to give their bank card numbers and authorises the coupling with a payment service. Once the scheme has been carried out, the fraudsters can pay large sums of money with their smartphone in which the victim's bank card is stored.


  • Never give out your card numbers, a password or a secret code over the phone. No bank advisor will call you to ask for this or to validate a transaction.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, cancel your card. Also inform the payment service (ApplePay, Google Pay, Garmin Pay, Paylib, etc.).
  • Ask your bank for a "chargeback" (refund) on your card for an unauthorised transaction.
  • Dispute fraudulent debits and ask your bank for a refund in writing within a maximum of 13 months (or 70 days for a fraudulent payment outside the European Economic Area).
  • Keep as much evidence as possible to prove your good faith and to challenge your negligence if you have to take your case to court.

What to do if you lose your phone or watch?

While a connected watch is harder to lose than a phone, no one is immune to theft.

To prevent them from being used for fraudulent payments, cancel your bank card as soon as you realise it has been lost or stolen. Also inform your telephone operator and the mobile payment service. In the event of theft, remember to report it to the police or gendarmerie.

If, despite everything, you notice an unauthorised payment made with your smartphone or connected watch, you have 13 months to contest it and request reimbursement from your bank (70 days for a fraudulent payment outside the European Economic Area).

Tips for making your payments more secure

  • Lock the payment application with a password or identification methodseparate from your phone.
  • Always check the battery life of your phone and especially your connected watch if you are using it as your only payment method.
  • Write down your credit card numbers and your bank's customer service number somewhere other than your phone.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.