Apple & Paving the Road to Mobile Payments

Apple’s latest announcements today could be a boon to mobile commerce.

The company is noted for introducing technology that changes consumer behavior.

ITunes music purchasing and passbook aggregation, such as of airline boarding passes, are a couple of examples.

The company also is noted for building and building the anticipation of a major announcement, by allowing rampant speculation to run wild while allowing some of the juiciest of tidbits to leak out.

At the opening of CES earlier this year, none of the 150,000 attendees were allowed in until the official opening time. Many thousands of people joined the waiting line, counting the minutes. As the crowd grew, the anticipation built.

When the exact starting time was reached, all the doors were opened and the crowd madly rushed to get inside.

But there was no ‘one big thing’ to see in the cavernous convention center halls, though there was pretty much something for everyone among the many exhibits, depending on their particular interests. And that’s where we are with the Apple announcements tomorrow.



Among the rumored launching of some new hardware, like a larger iPhone, are expected to be mobile payment technologies, including the much-anticipated inclusion of NFC (near field communication), the technology inside somewhere around 500 million Android phones hitting the streets this year.

Numerous merchants have told me they have shied away from adopting NFC payments since it  excluded all Apple phones.

Various reports say that Apple already has deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express and payments would be accepted at retailers including CVS, Walgreens, Nordstrom and McDonald’s.

Other reports also say that beacons are being upgraded at Disney and Apple stores and that Apple may even come out with its own beacon hardware.

Of course, no retailers or financial institutions will confirm any of this, fearing the wrath of Apple.

However, tomorrow’s announcements are less about the hardware and software being introduced and more about how those things will change consumer behavior.

Even though Apple’s smartphone market share globally is only 13% compared to Android’s 80%, based on IDC’s latest data on phones shipped worldwide, it still commands huge attention and has the cache to put NFC on the map.

Everyone will hear about the new Apple payment methods, whether by a wave of a phone-holding hand, from a wearable device or by the tap of the phone to a payment terminal. The verdict is still out on how fast mobile wallets and payments will be adopted, but Apple will likely demonstrate what the process should look like and make the case of why consumers should move in that direction.

The doors are about to open.

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