Will a Weak Signal Keep Me from Paying with My Digital Wallet?

United States By Christy Lowry Dec 19, 2022

Digital wallets are becoming increasingly popular due to their widespread convenience and reliability. However, users may be concerned about connectivity issues. It’s true that digital wallets can occasionally be affected by a weak connection, but there are a few other factors to consider.

Digital wallets can sometimes run smoothly offline and other times, they can fail to complete the purchase. We’ll go into depth about how digital wallets work while providing you with a few steps to support your app’s functionality. Soon enough, you’ll have all the information you need to use your digital wallet with minimal issues.

How does a digital wallet work?

Are you a little leery of how digital wallets work? Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you. Many digital wallets use near-field communication (NFC) technology. Also known as “tap-and-pay,” this technology passes data between two devices in close proximity. These devices transfer your data as you tap your phone on a point-of-sale terminal. Google Pay, PayPal, Samsung Wallet, and Apple Pay all use this technology.

Samsung Wallet also uses magnetic secure transmission technology. Your digital wallet app creates a magnetic signal, similar to the magnetic stripe on your credit card.

All this technology does not technically require strong internet or cellular data connection. However, digital wallets use additional protection, known as tokens, which require a good signal.

Tokenization is a method to protect your personal financial information. Digital wallets attach a token or an identification number to your purchase instead of your account information.

Creating new tokens requires a strong signal, making it more difficult for rural consumers. However, consistently reconnecting to the internet creates new tokens to use offline. There’s a bit of debate about how many tokens you can use offline, so it’s best to connect to Wi-Fi on a regular basis.

 Do you need internet or Wi-Fi for contactless payment?

Apple Pay

Apple does not require an internet connection or cellular data because it uses NFC technology to complete payment transactions. However, you cannot review your latest payment transactions until you’ve reconnected to Wi-Fi or a strong signal again.

Also, making an in-app or online purchase requires a good internet connection.

Google Pay

Does Google Pay work without internet? While Google Pay also uses NFC technology, it requires an internet connection to download token keys. If you’ve run out of token keys, the app must reconnect to the internet before your next purchase. In addition, Google Pay may experience a slight delay while renewing token keys.


The PayPal app uses NFC technology, but you must first enable the offline feature to make an offline payment. Your payments will hold and then fully process once the internet connection is restored.

Samsung Wallet

Samsung Wallet is similar to Google Pay, requiring fresh tokens to process new payments. The app may not let you complete your purchases if you have not been online recently.

Pitfalls to living in a weak signal area

A weak signal could affect your ability to make purchases with your digital wallet. For example, your digital wallet app may fail if it’s been a while since you’ve connected to the internet. However, the app can occasionally initiate a transaction before processing the payment once the connection resumes.

Also, digital wallet apps may prevent users from making large purchases offline. Your digital wallet app will always protect your information, so an expensive offline purchase could be flagged and stopped.

Additionally, conducting offline payments means lower security, making your financial information more vulnerable. A strong, consistent internet connection means your app is up to date with the latest security protection. For safety reasons, it’s important to consistently connect to a good signal.

What steps can I take to ensure my payment processes?

There are a few steps you can take to support the viability of your digital wallet. For example, adding a credit card in advance and setting up the digital wallet app ahead of time can help ensure everything runs smoothly.

Also, be sure to connect regularly to the internet to ensure older payments are fully processed. A consistent and strong connection confirms all your purchases while also replenishing your tokens.

Above all else, remember to carry cash or have another backup payment method on hand. It’s not just digital wallets that are affected by a weak signal; payment terminals can also experience hiccups.

If you live in a rural area or are passing through off-the-grid places, be sure to keep cash on you for emergencies and take the above precautions to help ensure your digital wallet app continues to work smoothly.

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