The Mobile Pay Challenge

Posted by Bretty Ransby on Feb 10, 2016 9:30:00 AM
Bretty Ransby

Written by Brett Ransby, GPShopper's Director of Client App Development

During a rather innocuous day at work, GPShopper's CMO, Maya Mikhailov, and I were trading our usual banter. The conversation turned to the viability and prevalence of mobile payments, and things started to get exciting. We decided that we should challenge ourselves to use only mobile payments for a full week and see how long each of us would make it. Part of this worked out perfectly from the perspective of inclusion, as Maya uses an iPhone while I carry an Android Nexus 5x phone, giving us both major platforms.

After the usual boisterous bartering (er, yelling) that consumes our normal conversations, we came up with the following guidelines.

The winner will be showered with praise while the loser will be taunted and booed until the winner’s throat is sore. 


  1. The challenge would start at 8pm on the Sunday of the week in question.

  2. All payments had to be made with apps already on our phone and our credit card information must already have been added.

    One note on this: The GrubHub app was not already installed on my phone. We agreed there was no chance I would survive and risked starvation, considering my lack of ability to provide for myself in a natural fashion. I was permitted to download GrubHub and GrubHub only.

  3. Apple Pay and Android Pay were considered acceptable forms of payment.

  4. We could not let someone else pay for a service knowing we could, then reimburse them using some sort of pay transfer, such as Venmo or PayPal.

  5. Any prearranged dinner reservations fell outside of this challenge. In those cases only, plastic credit card payment was considered acceptable. 


The challenge started at 8pm, right about the time I was arriving home from a trip to Florida. Both my wife and I were pretty hungry and wanted instant results so we pulled up GrubHub on my phone and I was off to the races. Hardly a difficult start to the challenge for me. 

While I normally ride my bike to work, Monday was unusually cold. I typically set my limit at 6-7 degrees Fahrenheit. This particular morning was 1. Taking the train was not an option, since that would require me to take out my wallet to use my transit car. Hello, Uber.

The first real test came at lunch. I had 20 minutes to get food before a meeting before which I must be fed to attend. I had remembered that I saw an Android Pay sign at Subway a few weeks prior. I hoped the across the street to find… it’s being remodeled. Here I was, stranded in the middle of the loop without a restaurant in mind that I knew accepted mobile payments. 

Potbelly… no mobile payments.
Corner Bakery… nope.

Finally, I came across Dunkin Donuts. I have its app on my phone, and credit on it to boot. Not the finest meal for someone training for an Ironman, but it would have to do. Big mistake - but I digress; it did the job.


Later that night, my wife asked me to pick up dinner from the grocery store. I knew Jewel Osco accepted Android Pay so I stopped in and grabbed the items needed, completing day 1. A smarter man might have purchased groceries for the week to make lunch, but seeing as how I haven’t made lunch for work since the Bush administration (and I just plain wasn’t thinking about it), no such luck. What fun would that be, though, if I didn’t continue the challenge the next day?

Sigh… my attempts to bike in failed. It was little bit warmer so I gave it an attempt. Unfortunately, it was far more slippery than I gave it credit for. I tried using my road bike and slipped twice. With my rear and pride hurting, I gave up on the bike and called an Uber since I can’t use the train under the current rules. This challenge was starting to put a dent in my wallet.

Breakfast was a breeze. I popped into Starbucks to get a croissant, paying with my Starbucks app. Maya provided lunch for us using UberEats, even though she had mildly given up by this point.

Dinner worked well as I stopped by Whole Foods and used Android Pay. Though I did drive my car and noticed that my gas tank was getting low. Not low enough to abandon city driving, but low enough that it made me worry how I’d deal with it later in the week.

Finally, I stopped by Sports Authority to pick up some running gloves to combat the cold weather. With a quick tap of Android Pay, I was on my way.

Hump day is when it all fell apart. I started the day still unable to ride my bike and I just couldn’t justify another Uber ride, so I broke down and took the train. I had no way to get on the train using my phone, so again I had to pay with my Ventra card. I decided to carry on, since using the train hardly felt like a reason to give up on this challenge.

Once I arrived at the office, we had a group sequestered in the conference room working on a project, so I popped down to Dunkin’ Donuts to grab them some breakfast sandwiches and juice. I used the credit left on my Dunkin’ Donuts app.

After that, it all fell apart. While I had taken the train, I still hadn’t used my credit card, debit card or cash. I had 20 minutes to grab lunch before my next meeting and the only nearby options were McDonald’s and Wendy’s. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat from either, so I broke and paid with my debit card at Pret a Manger down the street, ending my challenge.

My initial thoughts are that Android Pay and even Apple Pay are not wildly adopted enough to make this work. I really had to plan out my day or otherwise risk going hungry. I could have made my lunches in the morning, but I didn’t feel like this was in the spirit of the challenge.

Going out to eat with mobile payments only is just not plausible. There are too few places offering the option, and those that do fail to let the public know. Signage is horrible in most places that offer it. I had to ask almost every cashier if they were capable of accepting Android Pay.

The best way to really get around is to be flush with apps. Most places I went to had apps, but in order to use them I would have to break Rule 2 of this challenge.

I will say that it was a joy to use Android Pay, however. No fumbling for my wallet, quick tap and I was done.

Overall, it was fun - for no other reason than I can shame Maya every day until it ceases being enjoyable.

About the Author
Brett_Ransby.pngBrett Ransby is the Director of Client App Development at GPShopper, the leader in mobile commerce app development for enterprise retailers and brands. Brett, formerly an Android developer at GPShopper, now directs both iOS and Android development teams. When not getting smacked by riff raff on the way by his central office seat, Brett is charged with making GPShopper’s app projects more efficient.

Prior to working at GPShopper, Brett spent five years working at statistical sports leader STATS LLC in the SportVu division during its inception. Outside of GPShopper, Brett spends his time cheering on the Vancouver Canucks, San Francisco 49ers, Cal Athletics, Oakland A’s and the world champion Golden State Warriors.

Topics: In-Store Experience, Mobile Retail Apps, Mobile Payments

About GPShopper

GPShopper is a mobile commerce platform and app developer for retailers, using technology to transform the total retail experience.  GPShopper is a Synchrony solution. 
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