Last week at an investor conference, Tim Cook told the audience the mobile payments market is taking off faster that he thought it would, 'much faster' in fact. Apple has been reluctant to reveal any hard numbers regarding the amount of transactions that have taken place on its platform since its release at the close of 2014. But the encouraging signs for Apple Pay continue with the addition, almost every week, of more partners for the service. The success and adoption of Apple Pay is not a certainty by any means yet, but there are plenty out there who are keen to make sure they don't miss out if it is.
One example of this is, American Express' latest advert, demonstrating its co-operation with Apple Pay. Apple was perhaps shrewd with its new payment system. It looks to work alongside the old guard - the traditional players are not cut out but included. This ensures the likes of American Express are more than happy to provide free advertising for the system. In the short-term that is the safe play for a smooth launch of a new payment system - we will naturally have to wait to see how those payment systems that remove traditional card companies and banks' cut fare in the long-run - such as the Walmart backed MXC solution.
In the last week Apple Pay has landed its first airplane partner. On selected flights, Jetblue will offer drinks, food and seat upgrades via Apple Pay. The flight attendants will all be armed with an iPad minis and app that can accept traditional card payments and Apple Pay. And potentially an even bigger coup is the company's integration with the wildly successful Starbucks' app. However, Starbucks has found great success in a QR based payment system, so at this stage Apple Pay's touch ID acts as a quicker way to top up the app.
Apple Pay has a lot still to prove, but the traction it is gaining with partners and services is encouraging, far surpassing the impact Google hoped its own wallet, released more than a year ago, has achieved. In fact, there are rumours that, in response top Apple Pay, Google is looking to introduce an alternative to NFC payments to recapture some of the mindshare around mobile payments. Rumours are that Google plans to utilise a bluetooth proximity system for payments, called Plaso.
Apple Pay's success is nothing but good news for the rest of the mobile industry invested in the success of mobile payments. Here's hoping they can continue to convince more retailers and services of the benefits of mobile payments, and more importantly, start to convince consumers too. It's just a shame those consumers Apple Pay can reach are still exclusively in the USA and on the latest iPhone 6 devices. However, that does leave plenty of room for other players in the market, whether android based or agnostic.
By Matthew Taylor 13th February 2015
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