In our never-ending quest for simplicity in a digital age, wouldn’t it be great if we could eliminate the need for a wallet and simply pay for everything we wanted with our iPhone? This is exactly what Apple envisions as they release their new, wireless, digital wallet later this month. With the use of a fingerprint sensor and short-range radio waves, Apple Pay will allow you to purchase your latte, pay for parking, or secure other goods at participating retailers on a growing list that includes Macy’s, Walgreens, and McDonalds.
Sound familiar? It should. This technology is by no means new. Near Field Communication (NFC), the technology that allows a special chip inside the phone to transmit information to the register, is already available on most Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry devices, and in as many as 220,000 retail stores. Up until now, however, Apple has stayed out of the game.
Apple Pay users will be able to use their credit or debit already attached to the iTunes account for purchases. They will also be able to add additional cards by taking a picture of them. iPhones won’t actually store any sensitive card information but rather an encrypted placeholder ID is created. “Each time you pay we use a one-time payment number along with a dynamic security code,” explained Apple’s head of software and services, Eddy Cue. This number is then matched up with the user’s account information during reconciliation.
Is the addition of a fingerprint scanner enough to calm the public’s apprehension when it comes to digital wallets? Consumers in the U.S. have thus far been reluctant to adopt mobile payments. And the recent hack of iCloud accounts certainly won’t temper fears surrounding security. Yet, Apple’s participation in the world of digital payments might just signal a turning point for the struggling platform. Unlike their predecessors, Apple Pay will launch with the full support of all major players in banking and several giants in retail. In addition, the technology will be fully integrated in all new iPhones, which means providers will be unable to block its use like they did with Google Wallet. But just because they CAN use it, doesn’t means consumers WILL use it; at least not yet. After all, it took credit cards over 50 years to reach critical mass.
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