Chances are good that if you’ve tried Apple Pay with your iPhone that you like it. What could be easier? Watch. Buying anything with a credit card the old fashioned way took a number of steps which Apple Pay eliminates.
Here’s how I see the past. Stand in front of a cashier, fumble around for a credit card in wallet or purse, swipe card, swipe card again, or stick card into slot and wait (and forget to take card out), put card back, grab receipt, grab purchased items, move on down the line.
Here’s how I see the present, Apple style. Stand in front of a cashier, hold phone over credit card terminal, add fingerprint, done. It’s even better with Watch. Hold Watch wrist over credit card terminal, wait for beep, done.
What’s the problem?
Old fashioned dialup credit card swiping machines are ubiquitous and Apple Pay is not. 2016 will be a watershed year, though, because merchants are being driven into the 21st century with new terminals which should reduce fraud, improve security, speed up transactions, and pave the way for more purchases using apps on mobile devices, and Apple Pay.
As usual, Apple was late to the mobile payment party, and, as usual, Apple has shown the rest of the world how to do it right. Simplicity and security.
What we’re seeing now is the catchup phase to any new Apple product. There’s Samsung Pay, which works on more devices. There’s Android Pay which once was called Google Wallet and used NFC for transactions four years ago. Who knew? I know, right?
Regardless, payment apps are coming. Walmart Pay will launch in 2016, and already most major merchants have their own shopping apps so we can rest assured that those apps will be brought into dry dock, refurbished, and refitted to become payment apps that work like their in-house credit cards.
Right now we’re in a transition phase for mobile payments with a number of players vying for attention, a number of varying options and methods to pay, new technology arriving in stores, and the problem with device mindshare.
Apple’s iPhone and Watch combo make up a small portion of the total number of mobile devices which can be used to make secure purchases at retailers. Yet, despite adopting older technology and making it somewhat relevant again, neither Samsung Pay nor Android Pay has made much progress down the path Apple blazed way back when.
Mobile payments are not the norm for mobile device owners. A good example is usage. In the current holiday season, Apple’s iOS devices accounted for around 75-percent of online purchases with mobile devices, despite much smaller marketshare than Android devices. Apple devices get used more frequently and for more purposes than Android devices which all too often are treated like feature phones by their users.
What’s to become of this growing mess? More fragmentation.
Just as there are hundreds and thousands of banks that issue a variety of credit cards, so will there be many mobile payment platforms and devices, and just as we had to juggle a number of personal credit cards in wallet or purse, now we’ll have to juggle multiple cards and multiple payment methods in our mobile phones and smartwatches.
I like using Apple Pay because it’s about as easy a purchase as you can make unless someone else buys it for you, but the reality is we’ll all need multiple credit cards and multiple apps to make mobile payments ubiquitous and useful.