Apple along with the new iPhones and the Apple Watch announced another new Apple service, called Apple Pay today. This service enables iPhone and Apple Watch users to substitute their credit cards with iPhones and/or Apple Watches. I have to be honest here, with a bunch of credit cards and debit cards in my wallet I always have to end up carrying a huge wallet and hence buy pants one size bigger than my actual size! So if this service works and works well, Apple might have just solved an important problem for many of us. Kidding aside, this is something that many smartphones out there have been boasting about, NFC payments, but as usual Apple did not jump on this ship first, but let us hope that Apple's implementation works far better than the current ones. I am only talking about myself here when I say that I trust Apple more than another company out there (Amazon comes in the second place fyi) and if I have to rely on some technology company to manage all my credit cards, it will only be Apple. After all Eddy Cue did say that "We (Apple) are not in the business of collecting your (users') personal data".
Like I mentioned previously Apple is not the first to implement this feature on its Smartphones, NFC payments have been prevalent for a while now, like Canada (ask Rene Ritchie about it) and from even before that in Japan (what say Brian Tong of CNET?). But mobile payments have not caught up in USA or many European countries yet and Apple (probably) can rectify this situation. If there is any company in USA or even for that matter in the world that can popularize a new(ish) service amongst millions of people, it is Apple. Take the Touch IDs on the iPhones for example. Fingerprint sensors on phones existed long before Apple introduced Touch IDs, but none of them were even remotely successful. But with the introduction of the Touch ID on iPhone 5S, Apple has enabled this technology go mainstream and boy are we realizing its benefits now, like authorizing purchases, unlocking phones without the need of typing in the access code every time or to authorize Apple Pay, recently. So be it the consumer desktop computers or smartphones or tablets, Apple has a successful track record of bringing supposedly complex technologies to the most common of the people amongst us.
Some points of interest on Apple pay from today's Apple keynote are,
- All major credit card companies and banks are on board with Apple on this
- Can be used in more than 220,000 stores already
- Since this requires a NFC chip embedded, only iPhone 6 or 6 Plus can be sued stand alone, but with the Apple Watch paired, the iPhone from 5 onwards can be used for Apple Pay
- Apple Pay is almost as secure as Touch ID, with no private data being accessed by Apple and only the issuing bank dealing with the transaction details (not the store or the store employees)
- Most importantly, no need for the three digit security code on the back of the credit card
- Apple Pay can also be used to pay for stuff you buy inside Apps like eBay, Amazon, etc.
- Finally a use for the Passbook App on iOS?
- Can potentially walk in and walk out of stores without having to take the iPhone out of your pocket if you have an Apple Watch tethered to a compatible iPhone
In summary, if this service, Apple Pay works like Apple has touted it today, it will be a game changer. Apple would have yet again taken a seemingly mundane area of consumer interaction and revolutionized it. And of course for Apple, it adds another pointer in the long list of advantages of the Apple ecosystem that it can tout.