Looks like Apple Pay™ is coming sooner than expected—a leaked Walgreens internal memo suggests the new payment service might be live by Saturday, October 18.
The official announcement might come at Apple’s October 16 iPad event, where Apple is expected to show-off its new iPad Air™ 2, Retina iMacs®, and a new Retina iPad mini™ 2. The event also presents an opportune time to plug Apple Pay, and the service may even go live before Walgreens ready-date.
The Apple Pay/iPad Air 2 connection strikes the main nerve of Apple’s proposition to retail business. The new iPad is rumored to have a 12.9-inch screen*, and this seems to have mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) written all over it. Like Apple Pay and near-field communication (NFC) payment technology, Apple was not the first to bring mPOS to market. Remember Intuit’s GoPayment® on Sprint phones? No? That’s because Square on the iPad wound up dominating that market to the point of ubiquity. Apple is looking for the same result here. With retailers posting $2 billion in annual revenues from mPOS, all eyes are on SMBs looking to cash in on this technology.
*Some rumors say the 12.9-inch iPad has been pushed back to December; either way, it’s coming.
We don’t know yet whether the new iPads will have NFC technology, and judging by the rumors, it is looking like it will not. If this is the case, the Apple Pay/iPad connection still manifests in the messaging. Apple seems to be really targeting retailers with its newest products and services; and whereas once we may have thought of mPOS as squarely (pun!) in the realm of SMBs, more and more, we see big-box retail associates toting tablets (iPads and others), using them to engage customers at the stores.
On the other side of the coin, all-in-one POS solutions that combine magnetic strip and NFC technology are becoming popular items for manufacturers to roll out. As it looks now, the industry is gearing up for Apple Pay to make enough of an impact insofar as we might see many retailers adopting a hybrid payment system in the very near future.
Banking on the success of Apple Pay
As we are seeing already, momentum and excitement for Apple Pay is starting to bubble over. It is, after all, an Apple product, so naturally we can expect a dog-and-pony show surrounding the launch—even if NFC payment technology is an old Android trick that was adopted several years ago by (mostly) the same companies that are participating in the Apple Pay rollout.
Apple Pay has a couple things going for it that Google Wallet did not. These factors may push NFC payment technology into wider acceptance and thereby revolutionize the retail payment experience—or so Apple marketers would have us believe. There is some substance to this hope, however:
- Lack of carrier obstacles. These were a major stumbling block for Google Wallet™, along with payment card. Homogeneity with Verizon helps Apple here.
- Touch ID technology. The ability to unlock an iPhone® with a fingerprint has been around since the iPhone 5s, and it offers convenience and security. It feels futuristic and is Apple-branded to boot.
- Diminishing trust in retail security. Another week, another hack—the time is right for another payment system. Compromised payment card informationat major retail outlets has shaken consumer trust at a very opportune time.
Another security item Apple is pushing is a proprietary one-time token method that connects phones, retail POS, and banks. According to the patent specs, the iPhone and POS terminal shares one layer of security that, once passed, transfers card info to the payment provider—without the POS logging the card info. This way, if an NFC connection is ever hacked, the compromised information is useless.
Despite the media buzz, not all retailers are clamoring to get on board the Apply Pay train. In a recent Daily Dot article, heavy-hitters like Best Buy, H&M, Sears, Kmart, BP, and Coach made statements balking at incorporating the payment service into their POS operations. Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising one of the bunch is Best Buy, a longtime Apple partner.
This might be because POS roadmaps are not easily changed in a month’s time, making it not surprising that retailers aren’t quite ready to react to the Apple Pay announcement. Another speculation is that some are still feeling the burn of a failed Google Wallet™ experiment, which left a bitter taste in the mouths of some COOs—who may be asking the same question as many consumers in the face of all of this Apple Pay buzz:
Isn’t it easier to just pull out a credit card?