These days, your smartphone is an all-in-one gadget containing a camera, video games, calendars, and all your social media accounts. Now, these devices can be used for a new, groundbreaking purpose: mobile purchasing. Basically, people can use their phones to pay for stuff, or download apps and shop on their phones.

Most recently, stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and the 7-11s in Japan are working to build a mobile payment network where customers will download apps and be able to pay for items by tapping their phones on a reader installed in the store.

Starbucks also recently announced their mobile payment program set to roll out this Fall. The coffee conglomerate partnered with private company Square for this endeavor. Customers will download the Square app, store their credit card information, and can use the barcode on their phone to pay at the register.

Everyone has their phone on them at all times, so using the mobile pay system will be a very easy transition. Because patrons won’t have to go into their wallets and get out their credit cards, lines will go much faster.

People might be a little wary about paying for something using their phone, but mobile payments are some of the safest for online transactions. Mobile payments only require customers to input their phone number, not their name or social security number or any other top-secret information. Because of this, mobile payments become much less attractive to hackers. Also, as opposed to paying with a physical credit card, paying by smartphone requires the customer to provide authorization for the payment.

Taking the mobile payment system one step further is one of Starbucks’ biggest competitors, Dunkin Donuts. The first ever Dunkin Donuts app launched on Thursday for iPod Touch, iPhone, and Android. The app lets customers buy a Dunkin Donuts card or reload an existing one and pay for their coffee and donuts by scanning their phone at the register.

This app goes one step further and gives customers the opportunity to give others the gift of Dunkin. You can send anyone a virtual Dunkin Donuts gift card through text, email, or Facebook.

McDonald’s has also jumped on the mobile payment bandwagon using PayPal. The fast-food chain is testing this system out in 30 locations in France. McDonald’s takes a different approach to mobile payments by placing customers who pay through PayPal in a different pickup line to get their food faster.

With everything going mobile these days, the new mobile payment programs are sure to be popular.

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