October 24, 2013
First thing I did yesterday was to watch the keynote presentation from the Apple's event. Apple uploaded the video to Apple TV promptly, and that way I could enjoy it on the full screen of a TV. And the second thing I did was to download the Mavericks OS on Mac and iOS 7.0.3 on iPhone 5S and try Apple iCloud Keychain. Now I will tell you why it was important in the context of payments.
With every hardware and software update Apple progresses in the many industries it is influencing today and perhaps wants to influence in the future. I can say this beyond doubt that Apple has singled out 'Payments' as an important industry - starting with Storing card details, bringing Fingerprint Touch ID, use of Touch ID for buying apps, music etc., and experimentation with iBeacons for retail stores). And now the iCloud keychain announced in the Tuesday's event. With this Apple made yet another payments move.
Apple keychain is a bold step that will go a long way to make purchases on the mobile phone in the very browser itself - safari. iCloud Keychain with its ability to store card details, points to the next stage of Apple creating a payments capability in its handsets. Some might think of it as a small addition. To me its huge. In many surveys it has been found that people don’t buy in the browsers on their smartphones because of the small screens and keypads. It doesn’t allow them to comfortably fill the personal and payment information on the phones. With Keychain now you don’t need to input. All the information (contact, credit card) that you saved in your safari on Macbook is now available on your iPhone and iPad and vice-versa. And with autofill it just enters the information on small screens, wherever and whenever its needed. bingo!
Another important (yet slightly old) sign of Apple starting to fire on all cylinders in the Payments industry is the self checkout using Easypay app that it started last year. What is Apple Store EasyPay app? You can take items off the shelf, scan them and walk out without ever speaking to the Apple Geniuses. Minimal payments friction and you don’t have to stand in a queue.
Now think about it in a 1+1 scenario. If Apple puts together EasyPay with iCloud Keychain and all the other stuff they have been doing in payments, then you have one of the best digital wallet in the market with 200 times more potential than any other present in the market. All you need then is more merchants accepting payments and thats not difficult for Apple. We all know that Apple has 500+ million cards stored with them, and they know its a fabulous statistics for them. Apple could provide amazing user experience that it is known for, with the payment process, (say) as simple as scanning a barcode. Apple can top it up with actionable analytics for the retailer and with no requirement of new hardware. Dreaming am I?