A Brief History of Mobile Payments
In 1997, Coca Cola launched a project with a small number of vending machines in Helsinki that allowed customers to pay for their drink via text message. Later that year, Merita Bank used text messaging for bank account transactions. That was 10 years before the iPhone was introduced in 2007, when the world of how we communicate began to seriously change. During those 10 years a lot of revolutionary things happened – the introduction of NFC (Near Field Communication), PayPal Mobile, and buying everyday items like movie tickets and pizza from our mobile phones.
In more recent years, we’ve seen the launch of dedicated mobile payment systems. Google Wallet, Passbook, Squared Payments, and many other solutions have popped up. In 2013, mobile payments at POS tripled from the previous year (Federal Reserve, 2014) 17% of all smartphone users reported using mobile payments during the 12 month period, with the heaviest usage among Millennials.
Growth with mobile payments as been slow for various reasons, but the most frequently reported reason is security. People are largely concerned with their information being stolen, which is totally understandable. So how does Apple address this issue?
How Apple Pay Works
It uses a form of short-range wireless communications (NFC) for the payment transactions. When you put your iPhone 6 near an NFC-enabled POS system then scan of your thumbprint, the transaction is completed. This transaction is using an encryption to keep your personal and banking information safe, so that it cannot be hacked through the wireless exchange. Using NFC, two devices that are near each other can have a fast exchange of information that is secure.
What is really interesting about this is that Samsung and a few other smartphone producers have introduced similar systems in the past. However, these other mobile payments did not catch on.
The Apple Effect
Even though a larger percentage of the smartphone market in the US is owned by Android devices, Apple has this magical effect on consumers. Apple Pay is technically not a technology revolution, but the world audience is reacting as if it is a brand new concept. This company forces competitors to innovate and evolve their business models in order to grow.
Will Apple Pay be a game changer for Mobile Payments? I think so.