The recent announcement and subsequent release of the significantly larger Apple iPhone 6 and the even larger iPhone 6 Plus is still a pretty hot topic in the mobile industry. Although the iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to ever feature a size increase (however incremental it might have been) Apple was still seemingly unphased by the trending "phablet" sized phones from 2012 until now. But even though it’s wow-worthy for iPhone users, large phones have been an important part of smartphone culture for about two years already. Instead, we should be focusing on Apple Pay. Now that’s something revolutionary!
Except for the fact that the technology that Apple Pay uses has also been around since 2011. Anybody remember Google Wallet? Anybody at all? No?
Okay, so maybe Google Wallet didn’t do that poorly - but it didn’t do very well, either. Since its launch in May of 2011, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody try to pay with their phones at the store, at the gas station, or anywhere more than maybe once or twice - and one time it didn’t even work. While the idea behind Google Wallet was actually a fairly useful one, convincing people to store their credit cards on their smartphone wasn’t so easy. Even I wasn’t, and still am not, convinced that it’s a method of payment that I personally want to use. It’s one thing to have all of my contacts, work e-mails, personal e-mails, photos, videos and more on my phone, but my money too? Nu uh. That’s not happening. I prefer to keep my money separate. That way if somebody steals my phone then I don’t have to worry about somebody somehow getting my information and using it for whatever they want.
And, yeah, I know that companies that push NFC payments have made it as secure and as safe as they possibly can, but I just haven’t quite come around to the idea yet. That doesn’t mean that I think it shouldn’t be around, though.
In fact, part of the reason that I’m finding it so hard to adopt the payment method is because NFC usage isn’t exactly widely accepted. For the most part, I pay with debit or credit cards. On the rare occasion, I pay with cash. I don’t own a checkbook, and I never have. I have my two payment methods that always work one way or another. Storing my credit and debit cards on a phone just to use it on the off chance that a retailer accepts it seems like a lot of hassle right now.
But it would almost seem like payment by NFC is starting to really take off right now, and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that Apple has joined the game. Much like with the iPad, the Apple Watch, or dare I say it, the iPhone, Apple may not have been the first to implement the idea, but by golly they do a damn good job of making a product or service popular when they do. They’re like the Gandalf of the tech industry. Sort of.
Maybe it’s because Android phones are all over the map, and Google Wallet wasn’t available on anything but the Google Nexus at first - and to make a shallow pool even shallower, only Sprint Galaxy Nexus devices could. Verizon Galaxy Nexus phones weren’t so lucky. Slowly but surely, Google Wallet became more widely available, but by then it seemed like nobody really cared or took the service seriously. Apple Pay, on the other hand, is available for use on not only the latest two iPhone models (6 and 6 Plus), but also for Apple Watch users. With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus being as in demand as ever (probably because they’re so big, and, of course, Apple) across all major carriers, it feels like this is the NFC payment system that people have been waiting for.
And perhaps it’s because I’m a Kansas City local and recently encountered countless commercials adveritising the World Series (I still love my Royals), but I couldn’t help but notice that Apple Pay seems to have sparked both Kauffman Stadium and AT&T Park to support NFC payments from both Apple Pay and Google Wallet - and proudly. I’m willing to bet that all MLB stadiums will support these payments by opening day next year - which might also pave the way for NFL, MLS, and NHL to adopt the payment methods as well.
Of course, not all seem keen on the idea. Major retailers like Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, CVS, Target and Kohl’s have all rejected Apple Pay in favor of a rival system called Current C. You might have heard of the rival system because it’s recently been hacked. It might not be long before those retailers are eating their words, but who knows what’s really going on behind the scenes there.
The main point is, Apple Pay has sparked the biggest interest in the NFC payment system that I’ve ever seen. I had previously written off Google Wallet because in the 3 years since it’s release, I hadn’t seen it go anywhere. It never went away, but it never became that popular, either. I’ve only seen people take a serious interest in NFC payments since Apple unveiled it with the iPhone 6 launches back in September. I can only imagine that the interest in the new, easier payment method is just going to grow over the coming years as rival companies and platforms try to compete. Perhaps this is the real start of creating the next standard method of payment. It’s certainly on track to be that way.
As I said, maybe they weren’t the first to come up with the idea, but in typical Apple fashion they managed to make the biggest impression with it. It would seem that when it comes to mass influence, Apple’s still got it.