Last night we had a hardware guy visiting us in town, and of course the conversation turned to Apple and the imminent WWDC and what might be unveiled. The hardware guy was somewhat selling his new ePOS systems as ‘the Apple of ePOS’ i.e. nice curves, no bevels, great touchscreen. Essentially, the message was it just works (by the way we know that it’s got Windows under the hood, but he’s up for trying to change that too which is encouraging).
And so it was late at night that we got to sit down and watch the Apple keynote, not really knowing what to expect to be frank in the absence of one Mr. Jobs. Apple could be a changing company, there were many rumours as always. Maybe (as some analysts have suggested) they are losing their way a little in an era without their visionary CEO.
So imagine our surprise when Apple dealt out one little unexpected gem in the guise of Passbook. Since the beginning of AirPOS we’ve been keenly watching the emerging space that has now become known as Mobile Wallet, begging for a great solution that could take our own software to a new level and provide that long-standing missing link to consumers, ie the end of the credit card (which of course was supposed to kill off cash but in the UK especially never quite got there.)
In that time we’ve watched Square, Google Wallet, Card.io and most recently Paypal Here launch to much fanfare in the US without ever making their way across the Atlantic. We’ve sat on our hands waiting for someone to make NFC a true reality, without seeing anything that had any impact on the mainstream market as of yet.
There are multiple reasons why a solid, usable and credible Mobile Wallet solution just HAS to happen. Here’s a few:
1) The end of having to carry 5 cards around and remember the details of each. What a pain and inefficient way of paying for something this really is.
2) The banks (at least in the UK) are by far and away the biggest blockers to innovation in the payments space, pushing antiquated solutions and daft risk profiling ahead of actually making something that can exploit the public’s clear and almost rabid demand for a new way forward. This monopoly on nonsense needs challenged and ultimately replaced for all of our sanity.
3) The notion of a ‘Merchant Account’ may well be a thing of the past, enabling start up businesses to get up and selling without jumping the ludicrous hoops of convincing a bank that you are ‘worthy’ of accepting money into your business
4) Absolutely everyone has a smartphone, and would like it to be a whole lot smarter thanks.
So here’s a prediction. At the minute Passbook allows you to store your loyalty cards, vouchers etc from selected merchants. But Apple are not going to let those 400 million credit cards they have attached to iTunes untouched, not when there’s a clear as the nose on your face opportunity to make more cash from what people already have in their pockets.
It’s a completely obvious step to introduce payments via iPhones, it’s a no brainer and therefore it will be done. It may be around NFC but we’re going to bet that Apple will do something a little bit smarter than that. If we knew what we’d be billionaires too!
But we’ll bet on this, whatever they do it will simply just work and merchants and the general public will hail the day that it happened.
Apple, thank you in advance and also thank you once again for having the vision and sense to change things and for not forgetting about everybody outside of the USA when you do.