Opinion: Apple’s Mobile Payment Plans and Its Vision for Retail

Posted on May 17, 2012 by

Pablo Saez Gil of ResearchFarm has some interesting ideas on mobile payments in retail and why he thinks Apple will bypass NFC for another technology, Bluetooth 4.0. Read some of the highlights below, or head over to The Retail Bulletin for the entire article.

We believe the company is about to ignore NFC entirely, due to the current complexity behind NFC business models and the ongoing battle between mobile and digital wallets. Not least due to the success of the iPhones, Apple’s ‘boycott’ of NFC has a huge impact on other handset manufacturers, card operators and companies such as Google and their NFC payment strategies. Many of these players are now trying to update their NFC mobile wallets into digital, cloud based wallets.

Moreover Apple might have already found another contactless technology, whose capabilities leapfrog NFC. Last year Apple silently upgraded its Bluetooth offering in its entire range to a new subset: Bluetooth Low Energy. This allows low-consumption chips to act passively in the form of stickers in a similar fashion to NFC tags and devices can automatically and passively connect and transfer information seamlessly. The technology also enables long distance connections between devices of up to 50m. This feature will eventually enable payments on the go, without the need of fixed POS and traditional checkouts.

Since mid 2011 Bluetooth Low Energy has been available on every single device sold by the company, both on iOS devices and Macs. This means there are currently millions of shoppers who could easily be encouraged by Apple to make mobile payments, when the company launches its iWallet offering, indeed we believe that Bluetooth-triggered payments could surprise many companies and observers.

Furthermore such a mobile payment strategy would hugely increase global demand from retailers for Macs, iPads and iPods in stores to be used by staff to process mobile payments from shoppers. Leaving aside Apple’s plans for mobile payments, which are covered in our recently published “The Future of Mobile Payments” report, we think Apple is hoping for even more from app developers, cloud payments and its ecosystem. The company is encouraging dongle makers such as Square or iZettle, whose products can be added to iOS devices to accept card payments on the go. Apple’s filed patents suggest that the company thinks shop assistants and bartenders will in future manage transactions from Apple iOS devices and Macs, instead of traditional POS terminals.