December 26, 2014
This is the season of predictions and lists, so we did not want to miss out on the fun. We usually wait until something has actually taken place before publishing the news, but we are making a rare exception as we celebrate Christmas and the Holiday season.
Our co-founder, Aditya Khurjekar, dusted off his crystal ball to predict a few headlines for next year’s big payments stories. It has also been appointed the official LTP Crystal Ball for all future speculation in payments and commerce.
Note that while the headlines in quotes are obviously speculative, LTP Team’s analysis of the fictional headlines is pure non-fiction.
So, in alphabetical order of the major companies involved in big announcements in 2015:
American Express Buys Square and Foursquare in a Major Payments & Commerce Roundup
5 years ago, Amex bought Revolution Money in an attempt to leapfrog itself from the ‘blue box’ legacy. In the following years to date, after many new ‘rock star’ hires, a few new products such as Blue Bird, Serve & other prepaid offerings, and some highly visible partnerships with Walmart, Apple, Foursquare, etc., the company is now looking to make another bold statement. With a renewed focus on millennials, both Square and Foursquare would be perfect complements to Amex’s businesses, both in financial services as well as travel services. The detailed terms of the 2 separate, yet simultaneous deals, were not available at the time of publication.
Apple Opens NFC Stack to Google Wallet amid Speculation of New Apple Pay Network
At it’s annual developer conference, Apple confirmed what had been expected for months, which essentially allows third parties to build applications that utilize the NFC capabilities in iOS. Concurrently, the company also announced a major overhaul to Apple Pay, which is now a true shopping concierge that includes offers and other non-payment wallet services. Simultaneously, Google announced the availability of Google Wallet on iOS, enabling Google Wallet users to pay using their iPhones or iPads. Support for iWatch was not confirmed. Finally, no Apple conference is complete without some juicy speculation, and although there was no announcement, it is widely believed that an Apple Pay payment mark is getting closer to reality, a significant strategic move that would obviate the dependence on the major payment networks in the long term.
Facebook’s long Awaited Payments Feature is Finally Live, along with New Slam button
After a few pioneering starts in the payments space over the past few years, it’s ironic that Facebook is now seen as following the lead of other messaging companies such as SnapChat and others. Facebook is making it as easy to ‘Give’ money to a Facebook friend as it is to ‘Like’ a picture or video. The company also announced another new button to dislike a post with a new button called ‘Slam’. These 2 new features will be rolled out gradually and the ‘Give’ button will initially be available only to users in the US, and that too only after completing a new section in their Facebook profiles. While no official demo or visuals were made available, the leaked screenshots show use of newer colors like green and red in the Facebook UI in addition to the current shades of blue.
Microsoft Announces Multi-Platform Wallet with Payments and Commerce Capabilities
Microsoft is not exactly a leader in payments, but it is clearly a technology powerhouse with a long-standing, yet unsuccessful aspiration for mobile dominance. After the acquisition of Nokia, the launch of several high-caliber handsets, and the ‘open’ approach espoused by the new CEO, this announcement is not a big surprise. However, the jury is out on whether this new ‘Microsoft Wallet’ (the exact consumer brand not yet finalized) will get any traction. What is clear is that the company will include MS Wallet capabilities in all versions of its operating system and will make the app available on Android and iOS as well. We also expect Microsoft to continue to integrate these new wallet services into the cloud infrastructure business that the company already has a strong foothold in.
PayPal Launches PayPal Phone and Mobile Service in 5 Countries in the Americas
PayPal’s new CEO is already making a mark, a mobile mark, staying true to his wireless background. In a big surprising move, the company announced a new PayPal branded smartphone on the Android platform, which not only includes a full-fledged payments and commerce app suite, but also a PayPal branded mobile service. The PayPal mobile service is reminiscent of the heady MVNO era, which is not sure to see a comeback. The specific 5 countries and the underlying network operators were not disclosed, but in an invite-only demo session for select reporters, the seamless integration of mobile and commerce services was on full display. The LTP analyst at the session also noted support for multiple languages, which indicates that several other countries in Latin America will be covered by this new product line in addition to the US and Canada.