The United States is usually last at getting good things. We were last at getting Spotify, last at unlocking your phone and compared with European carriers, we still have terrible mobile plans. We were also very slow at allowing our phones to pay for items – mainly because the U.S. carriers wanted a percentage of the sale.
Granted, most of the mobile transactions I’ve seen only involve vending machines and not in the stores. However, mobile payment to vending machines is not available in the United States (at least in the south). Now the phone manufactures are in charge and we’re finally getting the ability to pay with our phones. Now that Apple will be launching Apple Pay in October, it will be a game-changer.
While Apple is getting the attention, it’s not the first. Google launched Google Wallet in 2011 and since it was announced, it never caught on. The problem: whether your Android phone could run Google Wallet. As of now, any phone running Android version 2.3 can download the Google Wallet app. And if you want to use your phone in-store to pay for items, your phone may or may not be supported as indicated on Google’s own support page for Google Wallet. Have a Google Nexus 5, it will work! Have a Samsung Galaxy S IV, it won’t work (maybe)!
Whether your Android phone is supported or not, that wasn’t the main issue why Google Wallet never took off. Knowing which merchants accepted Google Wallet was the problem. Google Wallet’s own website doesn’t list which stores have ‘tap to pay’, you just have to guess if the store supports it. Google didn’t want to list the stores that accepted ‘tap to pay’ but they settled on gift cards and reward programs.
Now that Apple is involved, mobile payments is a game changer. What Google couldn’t accomplish, Apple will. First items they announced was how secure Apple pay will be – credit card numbers are not stored on the phone, one time credit card numbers for purchase and no collection of data (something Google Wallet does).
Then they announce where you can use your phone to pay for items, something Google never really accomplished. The places that will accept Apple pay: McDonald’s, Subway, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Staples, Panera Bread, Apple retail, Disney, Sephora, PETCO, Nike, Babies ‘R’ Us and Toys ‘R’ Us.
What we don’t know is if Google Wallet will work at these places as well. It should since both Apple and Google uses NFC for secure payments (and really hilarious [or angry if they deny it] if you can use the Nexus 5 to pay for items at an Apple store).
There is a big unknown with the mobile wallet: how secure will NFC be. We are officially in the mobile payments era. We’ll know how secure NFC is by security researchers digging into the phone and the point of sale terminals or hackers gaining entry into people’s accounts. It was disappointing that Apple didn’t address the iCloud leaked photos during the keynote last week.
They should have addressed it because private photos and credit cards are completely different items.
If Apple (or Google) expects users to use mobile payments, they have to assure people that it is secure. Apple could have address the situation by discussing the security they (or don’t) use for iCloud.
They could have emphatically added what many people believe was the problem with the leaks: if you use a weak password, they can’t protect you.
We are officially in mobile payments. And just like Apple did with the iPhone, they weren’t the first in the category – that goes to Palm. When Apple does get into a category; they take over, revolutionize and make it so that only Apple gets use of it.
NFC needed Apple in order for it to take off. Now that Apple is on-board, the United States can finally be first in something – true mobile payments.