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Apple mobile payments: Can Cupertino really make it work?

Apple mobile payments: Can Cupertino really make it work?

Mobile payments have had a rocky recent history. O2’s Wallet app is on its way out, after the pay–by–message service failing to catch on with consumers during its 18-month lifespan.

Google Wallet, the search giant’s US–only service that lets users stash cards on their devices and pay via NFC, has hardly been a mainstream success either.

However, these high-profile failures don’t appear to be stopping Apple from making serious strides towards launching its own mobile payment system.

Word is that it’s tasked Jennifer Bailey, the woman behind its massive online store success, with leading the creation of its new service.

Details of how it would work are still very sketchy.

Patents have suggested some kind of wireless receiver, which retailers would install and which would be used by customers to pay for goods using a special iPhone app.

Google Wallet generic graphic (large)

Apple already has a way of allowing customers to pay for cheaper goods in its own stores via its Apple Store add–on.

What works in Apple’s favour is its millions of iTunes accounts.

Official figures show 575 million people are locked into the service, all with credit and debit card details stored on Apple’s servers.

That’s incredibly powerful and would mean a lot less friction in terms of paying for goods via iTunes.

It could be a case of giving the thumbs up to Apple’s terms and conditions and not even having to input credit card information to start using the system.

itunes jpeg

But there are stumbling blocks. A fair few, in fact.

The notion of using your phone to pay for something is still seen as awkward by many. And with good reason.

For many people, where mobile payments are concerned the rationale is: why would you do so when you can use your bank–issued card to buy low cost items via a contactless payment system?

There’s also the fact consumers are mindful that trad-dad debit cards mean you don’t have to keep showing off your expensive iPhone every time you want a sandwich or a cup of coffee.

And that’s before you even consider that while iPhones remain hugely popular, millions of other people don’t use Apple devices.

Is this going to be a worthwhile investment for retailers, then?

iPhone NFC

Surely a universal system, rather than one tied to a single tech company, would make more sense?

That, of course, requires consensus, something which is nigh–on impossible to find right now in the smartphone world.

It’s also going to take the credit card companies to step forward and say that they’re keen on such an option.

It all feels as if mobile payments remain a distant dream.

It’s easy to envisage Apple launching its own service, but it takes a real leap of faith to imagine more than a few fanboys choosing to use it more than once in a blue moon.

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