Yesterday’s big Apple event was a big deal for many reasons, as one of the world’s biggest brands seeks to claw back its top spot from Google and other competing companies.
But for all the hype and hoopla around the Apple Watch (née: iWatch) and the iPhone 6, it could be a far less trumpeted announcement that brings Apple’s brand back to the forefront: Apple Pay.
Many services have tried to dominate the mobile payment space. Google Wallet had big name partners like American Eagle and Subway, yet has so far failed to capture the interest of Android users. And despite PayPal and Square being two of the best-known names in the online payment space, a lack of major partnerships has hampered growth of the services as mobile payment providers.
But even with all this competition, no brand is as well placed as Apple to finally take the digital wallet mainstream.
It has potentially millions of accounts (and their payment cards) already on file after a decade of first iTunes and then its app store drawing in digital consumers. Apple is likely to skim a small percentage off the top of every sale, which starts out as small change but could quickly accelerate to an exciting new revenue stream if the company snags a significant portion of what will be an estimated $100 billion industry (Forrester Research) before the decade is out.
And with other big brand names like Whole Foods Market, McDonalds, Walgreens and Disney already on its side, enough high-spending iPhone owners should be convinced to make the jump, which in turn will drive more merchants to do the same.
Worries over fees are a concern, as is security following the iCloud scandal that recently reignited interest in the online privacy debate, so Apple Pay has some challenges before it can become a major player in mobile payments. But as we so often see, convenience tends to trump all other concerns when it comes to mobile technology.
Paired with an Apple Watch and/or an iPhone, Apple Pay could well have what it takes to convince consumers to leave their bulky old wallets and purses at home, freeing up space in their pockets at the same time as they line those of Apple.