As Apple prepares for the launch of Apple Pay, a payments system which will allow consumers to pay for items and services using their smart devices, is the way in which we buy set to change forever?
Near Field Communication
Many notable enterprises already use mobile payments, EE has been operating the Cash On Tap App for some time now, using Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow users to pay for an array of high profile services such as the London Underground, by simply pressing a button within the app.
Apple Pay will also use the NFC technology employed by EE currently. NFC is essentially a form of short-range wireless communication between a mobile device and a network or server, similar to Bluetooth.
Other Digital Payment Modules in the Pipeline
Facebook are set to begin development on their own mobile payment system using their messenger app as the vehicle – although security credibility will perhaps be a sticking point on the route to any kind of success for the social network, and Twitter are also phasing in Twitter Buy, which allows users to purchase products online directly through their app.
So although the mobile payment concept is certainly nothing particularly new, the idea of being able to pay for items by simply waving your iPhone or iWatch in front of a merchant device is definitely exciting, and as always, when Apple enters the fray, people start to pay attention.
Ready to Launch
Apple Pay looks set for a launch in the US this week, with a media event scheduled for Thursday at their Californian HQ, where more details are likely to be released.
Anyone who has an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch will now simply be able to swipe their device past a NFC chip-enabled checkout. A fingerprint confirmation will also be required as security confirmation, and then the money is automatically paid via a wallet within the Passbook App which is installed on every phone. Up to eight debit or credit cards can be stored on the app at any one time, and users are able to keep track of payments and statistical information based on purchasing habits, within the app.
Once “live”, you’ll be able to pay for goods and services at any shop or merchant that has signed up to the technology, and with an apparent 220,000 retailers already participating and thousands more preparing to install the technology by the day, the chances are that within six months it will be harder to find somebody that DOESN’T accept the payment method than does. Already signed up for the launch are giants like McDonald’s and Macy’s in the US, and the worldwide launch will see other high profile names enter the ring.
Security is paramount to any new payment method, and Apple have taken this aspect extremely seriously. Receipts will not show any credit card numbers or contact details, just the last four numbers of the user’s unique Apple Pay ID.
There is no doubt that this method of purchasing will catch on. I remember back to the launch of chip and pin in the early 2000’s, people had an irrational fear of this new idea and were also mindful of the security risks represented by having to enter a personal pin in public, into a device which was connected to a till operated by a stranger, in the presence of strangers. Now it is second nature. And now the public generally embrace new ideas and technological breakthroughs far more quickly than we did at the turn of the century.
The methodology is really not any different from making a payment using PayPal or something similar, but the device has now become the vessel. The difference is that now payments can be made in seconds, which could mean an end to relentless waiting in line, and also that we move a step closer to dependence on just one item for almost every aspect of modern living – a smart device.