It looks like 2015 will be the year we see Apple Pay hit UK shores, with signs that we will see the technology in the first half of the year; but there are rough waters for Apple Pay to navigate if it is to have any success in the UK. Some UK financial institutions are not so comfortable with the amount of data Apple will garner if the technology takes off. But the 'take off' itself is perhaps Apple's biggest challenge. The company's maiden voyage in the US has been reasonably successful - however we will have to wait and see if they can rock the boat in Europe, where payment security technology is already ahead of the US. (That's enough maritime metaphors in one paragraph for the year me thinks.)
We can be quite certain we will see the launch of Apple Pay in the UK this year. An Apple ad for a London based intern briefly appeared before being pulled down:
"The new London-based Apple Pay team will work to drive the roll-out of this technology across EMEIA by working with a variety of internal and external partners"
And there are plenty of reports that the company is in the midst of talks with UK banks to bring the technology to the UK. It's unlikely that any British financial institutions will want to miss out on Apple Pay - the company's strong brand, I think most would agree, gives it the best chance of any at pushing NFC payments in the UK.
However, the Telegraph is reporting that at least one UK bank is wary that the introduction of Apple Pay could increase Apple's power and position too much. They fear that the data Apple will be privy to in current proposals will allow the company a platform to invade traditional banking territory. I question if that is really Apple's desire, but we should not be surprised if questions over Apple Pay's privacy and security continue to be raised while UK banks see them as a threat.
The potential money to be made will, I think, pretty much guarantee a deal being reached by UK banks and Apple - but the technology's success is still up for debate in UK. There is a stronger play in the US than in the UK for Apple Pay's technology for a start. Unlike the US, the UK has already ubiquitously adopted chip and pin and contactless cards have achieved a decent foothold in the market. NFC alternatives from PayPal and Google have been available in the UK a long time already and not taken off dramatically. It could be that Apple will also have a tough time achieving a high level of adoption, especially while the technology remains exclusive to iPhone 6 owners.
It's shaping up to be an exciting year for mobile payments in 2015 that's for sure, and we will be keeping up with all the major developments here at Ensygnia, you can be sure of that.
By Matthew Taylor 5th January 2015
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