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Just how secure is Apple Pay? Uh oh.

(Tech News) With Apple Pay being a key feature of the new Apple devices, consumers begin to wonder, just how secure is the Apple Pay feature?

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All hail the Apple Pay system

One of the best features of the new iPhone is the Apple Pay system. It allows iPhone 6 users to take a picture of their credit cards, verify the numbers, and add them in to their Passbook so they can use these cards at a later time.

This is also supposed to allow the user to pay without ever providing the business with their credit card number. But, they seem to have forgotten that not every one will use this feature as intended. Some people may scan a credit card and begin to use it without the cardholder’s permission.

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Consumer Reports (CR) actually gave this potential problem a test drive. Glen Derene, from CR, scanned and verified a few credit cards that were in his name and then proceeded to add two of his CR co-worker’s cards (presumably with their knowledge).

It looked like it was going to work, at first, but when prompted to verify by email, text, or a customer service call, using it would be difficult. This two-step verification system would require access to the cardholder’s email, phone, or the ability to answer security questions with customer service.

However, if you think about this in terms of theft, it becomes a bit worrisome.

Why this is so worrisome

Say you leave you purse at a restaurant and do not realize you have left it until you are almost home; if someone were to take it, they would more than likely have access to your phone and your credit cards. Theoretically, someone could add and verify your cards, since they likely have your phone from your purse. If you enable the passcode feature on your phone, this would of course, slow any thieves down a bit, but it is still a bit worrisome.

According to CR, Apple Pay works by a process known as credit/debit card provisioning. “You aim the camera of an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, or one of the new iPads at a credit card and the device reads the card number, customer name, and expiration date off the face of the card, then encrypts that data and sends it to Apple’s servers.

Apple then displays any terms and conditions to which the card-issuing bank needs the customer to agree. Once those terms and conditions are agreed to by the end user, the Apple Pay servers send information from the device (which can include the last four digits of the phone number and location information) and info from the user’s iTunes account to the bank for verification.

No additional verification needed

When Derene attempted to add his wife’s card, it was added with no additional verification necessary. She knew he was attempting to use it, but he was not an authorized user on the account.

Derene stated, “that was unexpected, since it is my wife’s private card, and she has never authorized me as a user. Also, that card isn’t associated with our family iTunes account. In fact, I have no current financial relationship with Citibank at all,” and yet he was allowed to fully use her credentials as if he had the actual card in his hand, making several purchases.

Derene did reach out to Citibank to ensure this was not just an unfortunate glitch, and was told sine he had all the vital information, including the same verified address, the system assumed he was authorized. He also reached out to other financial entities involved with Apple Pay, and no one really wanted to provide much detail about how provisioning works. Not too comforting considering the amount of damage that could be done, should your credit card information fall into the wrong hands.

In defense of Apple Pay

In defense of Apple Pay, there have been instances were credit card information has been stolen through air waves, as well as, several cases of major corporations’ data files being hacked.

Basically, your credit card information has the potential to be stolen any time you use it, but if you use Apple Pay, you may want to take a few extra steps to ensure it stays a little bit more secure: enable a pass code, make sure your credit card fraud alerts are enabled so you know if your card has been used, and regularly check your statements to ensure all purchases were made by yourself or an authorized user.

But, they do need to mandate a two-step verification regardless of whether or not your possess all the “correct” information.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. wonderYrednow

    October 26, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Or maybe using the fingerprint pass code on the iPhone 6 would slow down potential thieves.

    Of course, if you cut off your finger and left it in your purse….well, that would speed things up for the thieves.

  2. jmmx

    October 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Interesting article with some good points.

    I do have some issues with this:

    “Say you leave you purse at a restaurant and do not realize you have left it until you are almost home; if someone were to take it, they would more than likely have access to your phone and your credit cards. Theoretically, someone could add and verify your cards, since they likely have your phone from your purse.”

    First – if you lose your cards than you have problems Apple Pay or not.

    More importantly, Apple Pay usually works with Touch ID. TID requires you to have a passcode. Assuming your their does not know your passcode then he is locked out of your phone.

    If you get all the way home before realizing you lost your purse, the first thing to so would be to get on your computer, and use Find mi iPhone to deactivate it, then call the credit card companies to notify them.

    If you lose your physical cards to thieves, you will always have problems. If you did not have your cards with you because you knew you had your iPhone, will that certainly would be better.

    • Michael Long

      October 27, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      “More importantly, Apple Pay usually works with Touch ID. TID requires you to have a passcode. Assuming your their does not know your passcode then he is locked out of your phone.”

      It doesn’t usually work with Touch ID, it requires it. You can’t use Apple Pay on a device without a passcode set and Touch ID enabled. Disable Touch ID and/or the passcode, and you lose the ability for the system to access the encrypted token in the Secure Enclave.

  3. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  4. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  5. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  6. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  7. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  8. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  9. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  10. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  11. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  12. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  13. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  14. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  15. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  16. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  17. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  18. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  19. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  20. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll stick with Apple Pay for secure transactions. The above scenarios are associated with physical card theft. Apple Pay or not, If someone gets ahold of you card, you are screwed. There is bandwagon effect in play to shoot holes in Apple’s security measures. Apple has taken an existing standard and made it better.

    Sour grapes will always bring forward dubious criticism. You will see arrows flying from the supporters of Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX has actual security flaw as opposed to the circuitous flaws leveled against Apple Pay.

  21. rolandestrada

    October 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    The final answer is very secure.

  22. Michael Long

    October 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    This has to be the stupidest article I’ve ever seen. If a woman leaves her purse behind with a bunch of credit cards in it… SHE’S ALREADY LOST THE CARDS!

    Further, you just need to jot down the numbers to steal them. The phone’s not needed at all.

    But since you seem to think that they’re equally insecure, let’s try this. We both go to a seedy bar. You leave your wallet with credit cards behind, and I’ll leave my Apple Pay-enabled Touch ID protected iPhone behind.

    We then wait to see whose card numbers get stolen first, and whose appear second (if at all).

  23. Alfiejr

    October 28, 2014 at 4:07 am

    anyone that doesn’t have Passcode turned on is an idiot begging to be ripped off. not to mention TouchID makes Passcode drop dead easy to use and airtight (don’t insult us with James Bond latex finger mold scenarios – damn few of us are international spies) for Apple Pay devices.

    the CR guy got his wife’s card to work because the accounts’ address was the same. so Citibank was sloppy – drop them. but i got separate email notices for each credit card i scanned in – all my own. Chase was not sloppy – use them.

  24. rolandestrada

    October 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Research is critical when writing articles like these. It’s easy to get clicks with inflammatory headlines. But when the facts fall down in the main article trouble ensues. Take a look at the flack of over CurrentC’s 2015 rollout of its’s payment system. CurrentC is the reason behind CVS and other merchants banning Apple Pay and Google Wallet as forms of payment. Even though some of these merchants have had NFC payments enabled for some time.

    These merchants have banned NFC not because it is inherently insecure but because they have contractual obligations with CurrentC.

    There are two good articles on this subject – John Gruber at Daring Fireball and Josh Costine at Tech Crunch. It’s a follow the money scenario.

  25. rolandestrada

    October 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    If you have doubts about Apple Pay security versus CurrentC, go take a read of Nick Arnott’s post on iMore. CurrentC as a story is exploding all over the net. Will it cause CurrentC to implode before it actually launches? One can only hope. Take a look at the one star reviews of CurrentC on the iTunes app store. Hilarious!!.

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Tech News

Google is giving back some privacy control? (You read that right)

(TECH NEWS) In a bizarre twist, Google is giving you the option to opt out of data collection – for real this time.

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Open laptop on desk, open to map privacy options

It’s strange to hear “Google” and “privacy” in the same sentence without “concerns” following along, yet here we are. In a twist that’s definitely not related to various controversies involving the tech company, Google is giving back some control over data sharing—even if it isn’t much.

Starting soon, you will be able to opt out of Google’s data-reliant “smart” features (Smart Compose and Smart Reply) across the G-Suite of pertinent products: Gmail, Chat, and Meet. Opting out would, in this case, prevent Google from using your data to formulate responses based on your previous activity; it would also turn off the “smart” features.

One might observe that users have had the option to turn off “smart” features before, but doing so didn’t disable Google’s data collection—just the features themselves. For Google to include the option to opt out of data collection completely is relatively unprecedented—and perhaps exactly what people have been clamoring for on the heels of recent lawsuits against the tech giant.

In addition to being able to close off “smart” features, Google will also allow you to opt out of data collection for things like the Google Assistant, Google Maps, and other Google-related services that lean into your Gmail Inbox, Meet, and Chat activity. Since Google knowing what your favorite restaurant is or when to recommend tickets to you can be unnerving, this is a welcome change of pace.

Keep in mind that opting out of data collection for “smart” features will automatically disable other “smart” options from Google, including those Assistant reminders and customized Maps. At the time of this writing, Google has made it clear that you can’t opt out of one and keep the other—while you can go back and toggle on data collection again, you won’t be able to use these features without Google analyzing your Meet, Chat, and Gmail contents and behavior.

It will be interesting to see what the short-term ramifications of this decision are. If Google stops collecting data for a small period of time at your request and then you turn back on the “smart” features that use said data, will the predictive text and suggestions suffer? Only time will tell. For now, keep an eye out for this updated privacy option—it should be rolling out in the next few weeks.

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Tech News

Looking to refresh your virtual rooms? Check out Zoom’s Immersive View

(TECH NEWS) Zoom’s new Immersive View feature will help you feel like you’re back in the workplace or classroom again – or wherever you want to be.

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Zoom's new Immersive View allows users to be creative and place participants on landscapes, like this field of flowers.

If you’re tired of feeling separated from your coworkers, friends, or classmates, Zoom has a new feature that will make you feel like you’re all in the same place once again. At Zoomtopia, Zoom’s annual user conference, the company announced its Immersive View feature that they say will allow for a “more engaging and collaborative way to meet”.

With Immersive View, video participants can all be arranged in a single virtual space. Hosts can choose from one of Zoom’s immersive virtual scenes and embed video participants within that scene.

To make sure your scene is as natural as possible, hosts can move around and resize a participant’s image so they can look like they are sitting on a chair in a classroom or conference room. For added fun, you can even set a custom background. So, if you’d rather be part of the Galactic Senate Chamber, you can create your own scene.

Up to 25 video participants can be in the same virtual space. Any additional people after that will show up as a thumbnail strip on the top of the screen. And, at any time, you can change the view back to Speaker View or Gallery View if you want to.

How to get started with Zoom’s Immersive View
Immersive View is available on Windows and macOS for desktop. By default, all Free and single Pro accounts using Zoom 5.6.3 or higher will have the feature enabled.

To use the feature, first start your Zoom meeting or webinar on your desktop. In the top-right corner, click “View” and select “Immersive View”.

To place participants into the scene, choose between automatically and manually. By choosing automatic, as many participants as the layout will allow will be added to the scene. If you choose manual, you can add and remove participants as you’d like. Since Immersive View will use the first 25 participants, manual works well for larger meetings. If participant No. 26 needs to speak up, you can remove someone and add No. 26 in.

After you’ve made your choice, select one of the provided virtual backgrounds or upload your own image. If you choose to use your own custom background, make sure to follow Zoom’s virtual background specs for the best results.

Finally, click “Start” to launch your scene, and, now, you’re all set!

Those that aren’t using Zoom 5.6.3 or higher will not be able to see the Immersive View. Instead, they will see either the Gallery View or Speaker View with a black background.

Currently, Immersive View isn’t available in breakout rooms yet. Also, recordings of Immersive Views aren’t supported. Depending on your recording settings, recordings will appear in Gallery View or Speaker View.

Considering all the video call fatigue going on right about now, the timing of Zoom’s Immersive View feature couldn’t come at a better time. It will be refreshing to see a video call without just heads inside boxes.

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Tech News

Create a pandemic-friendly sign-in with this touchless technology

(TECH NEWS) In an era where touchless communication is paramount, Wellcome brings touchless employee and visitor sign-in technology to the workplace.

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Logo page for Wellcome, a touchless technology sign-in.

Touchless technology is becoming more and more common these days and for good reasons — health and safety. Due to the COVID pandemic, social distancing is crucial in helping decrease the amount of positive coronavirus cases.

Unfortunately, some work environments require in-person employees, contractors, and visitors. And now, some businesses are even starting to bring more of their workforce back into the office. While we can hopefully assume they all have some safety protocols in place, the front desk interactions haven’t changed much. This makes it difficult to manage and see who’s in and out.

But to fill in that gap, meet Wellcome. Wellcome is a touchless sign-in platform for employees and visitors. According to their website, the app “helps you manage the workplace effectively, making it safe and easy for everyone” who’s in the office.

And the platform does this by implementing the following features in its tool.

Employee Touchless Check-in
By uploading a list of employees to the Admin, employees automatically receive an email with a one-click “Wellcome Pass”. This pass can be added to their Apple or Android digital wallet.

Once at work, employees scan their pass on an iPad at the reception desk. Then, they will see a customizable confirmation screen with the company’s health and safety guidelines messaging. This reminder can help ensure everyone is following the rules and staying safe.

Visitor Touchless Check-in
For visitors without a Wellcome Pass, they can still scan the QR code on the iPad using their device. The QR code will direct them to a customized check-in form where they can select their host and fill out a health questionnaire on their mobile device.

COVID-Safe Visitor Screening
Based on how a visitor answers the health screening questionnaire, it will grant or deny them access to the office. This health COVID screening will help HR managers “protect the office by restricting access to visitors that might be infected.”

Host Notifications
Via email, Slack, and/or SMS, Wellcome will immediately notify the host when they have a visitor and send them the visitor’s contact details. It will also let them know if their visitor was granted or denied access based on the health screening. If a visitor is denied access, the host is instructed to not meet the visitor, but contact them another way.

Contact Tracing
If there is a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case at work, Wellcome makes it easy to identify and notify anyone who may be at risk. To do this, the HR manager just needs to search by a person’s name and date range in the Admin. Search results will pull up anyone that could have come in contact with the infected person.

The Admin will also notify all employees and visitors that need to self-isolate and get tested. If needed, Wellcome also lets you download and submit a tracing report.

Manage Office Capacity
Wellcome tracks workplace capacity and occupancy data to help maintain social distancing. If occupancy reaches the capacity limit, the Admin will be notified to “take steps to reduce occupancy in order to stay within the required limits.”

In the Admin Dashboard, reports are available to view the status of current capacity. It can also predict what the occupancy will be each day so companies can plan ahead.

Book Workdays
Employees have the option to pre-book when they want to come into the office. The app displays how many slots are available for each day, and it can send out a calendar reminder. Through the Admin, HR managers can see who will be coming into the office. This is Wellcome’s other way of making sure capacity limits are always within range.

Also, setting up Wellcome is pretty simple. All you need is an iPad. You install the app on it and leave it at the reception desk for employees and visitors to check-in.

For companies who have employees and visitors in and out of the office. Wellcome does sound appealing, and it looks like they will benefit a great deal from the platform. And, if you’d like to check it out, Wellcome lets you use the app free for 14 days. Afterwards, you can select a plan that works best for you.

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