Earlier this week, Apple announced a whole slew of new devices and software features. While the iPhone 6 Plus and its smaller brother, the iPhone 6, have been the butt of a more than a few jokes this week, there was one announcement that could effect all of us, regardless of which device we use. Apple Pay, as we saw on stage is perhaps the most simple and easy to use contactless payment solution we’ve seen from a smartphone maker yet. And you know what? That won’t save mobile payments. Sure, taking a photo of your credit or debit card to get it set up is genuinely easy, and Apple Pay looks crazily simple, but Apple’s evolution of their Passbook certainly won’t make things better for us Android users, but it might not even help out new iPhone 6 users that much, either.
The support that Apple Pay has behind it is already pretty impressive, and the fact that it’s launching in October, just a month after the devices themselves are available is also somewhat impressive. However, the problem with mobile payments in general, is that they aren’t everywhere, and Apple Pay won’t change that. Google tried with Google Wallet and admittedly got themselves into a mess over the whole secure element thing, but if the company behind cars that drive themselves couldn’t convince people a couple years ago, what chance does the ever-secure iCloud custodian have?
We have so many “standards” when it comes to mobile payments that one more from Apple is just that, one more. In the US, there’s Softcard – formerly known as Isis – that was put together by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile….but not Sprint. No matter, if you have a phone with NFC I can hear yous say, you can use Softcard. This is of course true, but you still have to jump through a few too many hoops than a lot of us are willing to do. So, even Softcard, which is arguably one of the more recommended services isn’t anywhere near as simple as it should be.
The problem with mobile payments is that everyone wants a piece of the pie, and hungry companies don’t share pie. So, what’s the solution? At this moment, I’m not even sure there is an instant fix for the messy mobile payments arena. One thing’s for sure though, having a standard that only works on two smartphones and a watch isn’t a good idea, no matter how popular those devices are. What needs to happen is that the banks and credit card companies need to relax, open up and let everyone able to use their services without asking a fee for it. Apple Pay does look good, there’s no doubt about that, and others will have something to pay attention to here, but until a standard comes along that’s cross-platform, mobile payments won’t be getting big any time soon.