Tip: How to protect your Wallet in Windows Phone 8

Purchasing apps and games on a Windows Phone is an absolute breeze. Trials are a unique opportunity for developers to allow consumers to download and "try" their work before committing to a purchase. But with the speedy process in purchasing apps from the Store, should there be some level of protection for credit cards that are attached to a Microsoft Account?

Currently, anyone who has access to a Windows Phone that has a Microsoft Account loaded with valid credit cards for transactions can head into the Store and engage in a shopping spree - this isn't a good situation to be in but it can occur with children or other folk who borrow a smartphone for a few minutes. Luckily, Microsoft has a solution for this issue.

Instead of asking consumers for their Microsoft Account passwords each they wish to make a purchase (much like what Apple has for App Store security), Windows Phone owners can simply head into the Settings and set a passcode for Wallet - which is an electronic app available on Windows Phone 8 that mimics an item of possession which stores credit cards, vouchers and other retail cards.

Credit cards attached to a Microsoft Account will also be displayed here and the PIN set for Wallet will also protect said cards when attempting to make purchases. So how does one go about setting up a PIN for Wallet?

Setting a PIN in Wallet for Windows Phone

Wallet PIN

1. Firstly we have to configure the Wallet to ask for a passcode when either opening the app or attempting to make a purchase on the Windows Phone Store. This process is pretty straightforward. Simply open up Wallet and bring up the contextual menu (...) from the app bar, select "settings+PIN".

Here we'll need to turn on the Wallet PIN (see above image). Notice the option to use the PIN for Store purchases below? It's currently greyed out, but we'll come to that in a second. When activating the PIN a new dialogue will run you through configuring your secret code - should you have a PIN on your lock screen, it's strongly advised not to use the same combination of numbers.

Wallet PIN

2. Once the PIN is configured, we're pretty much good to go. You'll be brought back to the main settings screen for the Wallet PIN where the option to use the passcode to protect app purchases is now available since the PIN is now active. We can now select this to enable the extra layer of protection.

Note that this also enables protection for the Wallet app too, as well as NFC payments.

Wallet PIN

3. Now whenever you (or anyone else) attempts to make a purchase on the Store (or within an app) the above pop-up will be displayed and will request the Wallet unlock PIN. Should the user fail to enter it correctly, the credit cards on the account will be protected from misuse. With a successful entry, the purchasing process will continue as usual.

It's a simple measure to take for peace of mind when handing the device to infants or other people. Note that for kids, there's always the Kid's Corner, but if you're not going to set the feature up, or the child isn't going to use the Windows Phone often, then the Wallet PIN is a great implementation.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I've never seen a place with NFC payments, yet.
  • App and music purchases from your phone can use this too from my understanding of things, not just NFC.
  • Ik... I'm talking about going to a restaurant and paying with NFC.
  • Any place that takes Paypass will take NFC... surely you've seen those?
  • Srsly??? Does it take Amex and visa?
  • How do you reset your PIN if you happen to forget it?
  • From WindowsPhone.com Wallet FAQ:
    •If you're having trouble remembering your Wallet PIN, you can try to enter it three times. If you enter it incorrectly three times, you'll temporarily lose access to your Wallet. If this happens, just wait a little while, then try again. If you need to reset your Wallet PIN, you'll need to reset your phone to its factory settings.
  • A total phone reset? Seriously? That's a little extreme.
  • Safest way to do it. Think about it, how difficult would you want it to reset the PIN if somene got a hold of your phone?
  • You mean compared to how every shopping site wants to store your credit card information "for your convenience"? No thanks.
  • Everything gets backed up now so it's not that bad. Speaking of backed up, I shouldn't have made that late night "run to the boarder"! Am I right? Heeey-o!
  • It seems to me that this should be a default setting (force you to set a pin when you first enter a credit card), just like Firewalls should be a default setting on consumer PCs.
  • So without a pin setup, I can purchase anything without security?
  • I am having trouble find an app to assiciate with Wallet, for example Fandango.
  • Is there any news on the joint venture set up by the UK mobile providers to enable NFC payments from the phone?
  • http://www.nfc-phones.org/certified-phones/  Paywave and paypass (ie visa and MC) works on WP8!  (8x, 920, and other nokias there)
  • And what to do if you forgot that PIN? :$ Is there a way reset it? 
  • So what happens if you turn on the Wallet PIN, but don't check the box?  Do you just get asked for the PIN when launching the Wallet app, but not for any purchase?
    (Sorry if this question is obvious if you have WP8.  I'm still on my trusty Lumia 900.)
  • How do you change wallet pin on Nokia 920?