Great Expectations! Can Apple Deliver? Thanks anyways, Tim Cook :)

Perhaps, there's only 2 types of people in the tech world - those who innovate because of Apple and those who do it despite Apple. And there's the third category - the '4th estate' - media people like us who try to make a living watching and analyzing the action from the peanut gallery. Oh, and let's just ignore the lay consumer for now, who is oblivious to all this 09.09.2014 hype (remember, my next door neighbor knows exactly what NFC is...the football conference!).

At LTP, we take a slightly different view of innovation. We don't pretend to predict the future, nor do we burn precious mindshare in endlessly analyzing the past. We live in the moment, bringing you the most relevant and most meaningful innovations from around the world, curated every day. LTP itself has been live for only a year, but we have been part of this conversation personally for a decade - from the time when cameras were embedded into mobile phones.

Yes, I just said it. The introduction of cameras into mobile phones has been, in hindsight, one of the most impactful enablers for mobile financial services in the US. (Let's be honest - this whole Apple conversation is limited to the US and first world problems.) Who would have thought? This is a perfect example of an enabling technology taking many years to produce an impactful experience. So, exactly what are the pundits expecting from Apple next week? Are they expecting a new enabling technology to be introduced that will change the world in N years?

Or are they expecting Apple to do what it does best? To create an EXPERIENCE that WOWs the consumer? To create a PAYMENTS experience that satisfies the mobile generation? To make consumers WANT to pay because Apple will make it SO COOL to pay? You see where I am going...we have a fundamental 'needs and wants' issue here! Unlike music, photos, videos, books, etc. 'payments' is not a product or a service that consumers would LOVE to consume. It's a necessity; it's something you do to be able to consume some other product or service. So, if Apple is truly looking to change how you pay, we believe they have set a very high bar for themselves.

However, I don't think the industry is expecting Apple to meet or exceed any high bar. Most rational leaders in the industry with intellectual integrity already know that Apple helps them regardless of whether Apple succeeds or fails! 'Success' in payments will take many years even for Apple, and those who already have products in the market will benefit from their head start. A 'failure' for Apple is great too because it let's them say proudly, 'I told you so!'.
Ever since we announced The Money Event in February, we have been consistent and balanced in our view about payments innovation. I told The New York Times that the The mobile payments experience has to become the hook for some other commerce shopping experience. While we continue to be extremely optimistic about the opportunities for creating new value, especially enabled by mobile, we are taking a long term view for anyone to be able to declare 'success' in this space. As an example, I mentioned to Business Insider that services like M-Pesa, while amazingly impactful today, might prove to be inadequate in the very long run. Even if it’s not Bitcoin itself, a Bitcoin-like payment rail that uses a network of computers to confirm transactions will take over, not just in Africa but everywhere.

And now as The Money Event is just round the corner, I am excited to offer our attendees a chance to witness thought provoking sessions and gain first hand knowledge at this huge industry gathering. With more than 160 carefully selected speakers in 11 curated tracks, we are covering the breadth and depth of the most current themes in this exciting space. There is no better place than The Money Event to understand what the Apple announcements mean to the Money ecosystem - discussed and dissected by the foremost industry experts, all in one place. Read more about what CNBC had to say about it.

Most non-pundit industry practitioners have a very tempered expectation: 'I expect it to be GOOD, not GREAT'. We agree. If Tim Cook is reading this (quite likely), our recommendation would be to keep the expectations low, and plan for a runway that's long. And don't believe everything the vendors, banks and payment networks are telling you...

...Payments is hard, but we thank you anyways for being one of us in this journey, Tim Cook!