Apple finally announced that it is serious about payments. For a long time, the industry speculated about when and if the iPhone maker would get serious.
Now, it seems, is the moment.
Apple Pay, of course, has been around for years and is widely used but, before the pandemic, every year was going to be the year when Apple went for the huge market that is payments.
Partly the moment has been chosen because of the pandemic. The rise of contactless and the lifting of contactless limits has created the opportunity, and Apple finally dropped the press release.
The plan is to launch Tap to Pay later this year, and already Apple has signed Stripe for its ‘softPOS’ solution. The solution will not need any extra hardware, will work seamlessly on iPhones newer than XS and will accept the usual suspects in the form of debit and credit cards.
Before the pandemic, the debate around contactless payments was an ongoing one. Would, we wondered, people, want to use a contactless payment solution when entering a PIN number was about as fast. Experiments were conducted, and the results were always pretty close. It was a matter of a second or two.
Back in 2017, Apple Pay was in decline. Not because of lack of security or functionality but because we thought swiping plastic was just fine.
The pandemic has changed payments and specifically contactless out of all recognition. So Apple finally acted.
The question, of course, is whether Apple will take the market by storm or whether this is one arena where its elegance, coolness and brand loyalty will not hold sway.
Apple has always had to work hard to win acceptance in the corporate world and the payments space. Anecdotes about early presentations of Excel turning all the positive values into negative ones do not get forgotten easily.
It is a sure-fire thing that research companies – the same ones who asked whether we would trust Facebook with our money (No) – will be sharpening their pencils to ask consumers and merchants whether they would trust Apple with payments.
The answer will be fascinating, but Apple does not make big moves without being pretty sure of the outcome. The pandemic has created the opportunity, and Apple has finally pressed the button.
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