The concept of paying for something with your phone is not new. Back in 2012, PayPal, AT&T and even banks like Barclays, were clamouring to have a stake in the mobile payments space.
Yet whilst contactless payments are now commonly used, mobile payments have failed to pick up the same steam. This led the New York Times to suggest that mobile payments were ‘a solution in search of a problem’, and that people, in the main, see no reason to swap their credit cards for a phone.
Apple Pay arrived in October 2014, and there are now 700,000 retail locations around the globe which accept the service. Softcard, which was at the time Apple Pay’s main competition, found that interest in its own platform grew substantially once Apple’s service had been introduced. However, only 15% of iPhone 6 users have ever tried Apple Pay, although the majority of that 15% use the service on a regular basis.
Google’s former mobile payments system, ‘Google Wallet’, was released well before Apple Pay, in 2011, and is considered by many a failure. The internet giant’s business model, where as much information is stored about an individual as possible to produce targeted adverts, is deemed the main reason why the service failed to capture the public’s imagination - with privacy concerns the main sticking point.
As a reaction to the failure of the Google Wallet, a new service, Android Pay, is soon to be released by Google. It has already been praised by a number of different media outlets - with Techradar highlighting the fact that Android Pay incorporates loyalty programmes as one of the reasons why it’s a better service than Apple Pay. Google is also so confident that it’s made its Android Pay free of bugs, it’s willing to give $40,000 to anyone who can find one.
The problem for Google is that there are so many potential providers of mobile payments out there. Some, like Amazon, are just getting started, whilst Facebook is still yet to venture into the space. In addition to this, PayPal is still the most established player in the payments market - and its acquisition of Braintree and Paydiant allows them to support P2P payments, as well as online and in physical stores, just like Apple Pay.
Apple, ironically, has helped Google revive its payment prospects. Apple Pay has allowed more consumers to experience the advantages of mobile payments, and that extra exposure means that that odds of Google’s Android Pay being a hit have been shortened drastically.
It’s important that retailers have faith in mobile payments and implement the systems needed to give these platforms a chance. It’s only then that we’ll know if mobile payments is in fact looking for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, or if we’re on the verge of a mobile commerce boom.