Apple to move in to the mobile payments market?

Apples and oranges - take twoYes it is that time again. It has become almost as inevitable as yet another England batting collapse: When Apple announce a press event, ahead of a new product launch, the rumours that they are about to make a move into the mobile payments market don't so much peek their head around the corner, but come smashing through the wall.

hanging apple

Everyman and his dog is reporting that alongside the announcement of a larger screen iPhone 6 and perhaps a smart watch, Apple is finally going to reveal its plans for entering the mobile payment market at a headline-grabbing launch scheduled for tomorrow.

This time the rumours are that Apple have already reached agreements with some of the biggest players in payments: VISA, MasterCard and American Express.

"Payments just simply might not fit the brand [of Apple] - all a little apples and oranges maybe"

Earlier this year, I waded in on the relentless rumours that appeared in June around Apple’s developer conference. Then just like now, all the rumours were that Apple was ready to make its move. My feelings then have not changed much now. I wrote:

'Payments just simply might not fit the brand [of Apple] - all a little apples and oranges maybe'

Apple has an amazingly strong lifestyle brand, but mobile payments are a serious business with serious grown-up invested parties with a lot more at stake for consumers than fashion. I'm just not sure that the Apple brand and - for want of a better word - banking make for a happy marriage.

Nevertheless, there has been so much smoke this time around, it would be surprising if we didn't see a little bit of fire tomorrow.

"This weeks leaked celebrity pictures from the iCloud are extremely ill timed if Apple want to convince people that it can be trusted with their mobile payment security"

And there is certainly no doubt that there is a large opportunity for Apple. They are a market leader in virtually everything they do, so perhaps the opportunity is just too enticing to ignore, despite a potential brand clash.

But the trust and confidence required by consumers when it comes to handling payments and banking is very high though. Last week's leaked celebrity pictures from the iCloud are extremely ill-timed if Apple want to convince people that it can be trusted with their mobile payment security.

Nevertheless, everyone is reporting Apple is going to get involved; however, when it comes to the details and exactly what those plans are - then it all gets a bit lightweight.

The devil is in the detail, and the rumours of partnerships might suggest that Apple is going to position itself agnostically. Perhaps the company sees its role as a facilitator, and will shift as much of the responsibility onto its partners as possible. But history does suggest Apple don't like playing second fiddle.

We won't have to wait long to find out how much of a bite Apple wants to take out of the mobile payments world, and regardless of anything else, it will generate interest. One thing is for sure, the mobile payments market is a pretty big orchard - and there's room for more than one fruit.

By Matthew Taylor 8th September 2014

Related story around the web:

'Apple Teaming Up With Visa, MasterCard on iPhone Wallet' - Bloomberg

'New Apple iPhone to have 'mobile wallet' function: Bloomberg' - Reuters

Apple iPhone 6: Visa, MasterCard and American Express sign up for mobile payments - The Guardian

'A cloud of uncertainty' - BBC