Apple Pay and Twitter Buy Alter Face of Retail
By the time you read this, the new Apple Pay service will be up and running. The much-hyped app will allow users of the iPhones 6 — and, eventually, Apple Watches — to pay for products and services simply and easily, much in the same way PayPal does.
Except it won’t just be restricted to online purchases — you’ll be able to use it for things you buy at participating brick-and-mortar outlets.
Essentially, you load up your iPhone with your credit or debit card information, and use it to check out instead of a physical card. No more fumbling around in your purse for your Visa card — a few buttons pushed, and you’re done. (Needless to say, Apple gets its cut in the form of fees.)
Changing the game
Edward Baig of USA Today is already calling it a “game-changer.” This is more than a new way to buy tchotchkes on your computer during lunch break; this could encourage “consumers to cast aside physical wallets and use their phones to pay at the checkout counter.”
Similarly, though with a much lower profile, Twitter’s new Buy function is set to rev up online sales. (Unlike Apple Pay, you won’t be able to use it offline.) Users view a tweet offering a product, and if they’re so inclined, they simply tap “Buy Now” to enter shipping and payment info.
“It’s a streamlined and straightforward way to make a purchase, and it’s intuitive,” writes Erica Schlesinger of Wright On Communications “It speaks to the ever-present need to get things done and get them done fast.”
People are reacting to this new way of doing business, and all the economic indicators are aiming upward.
By 2018 eMarketer expects mobile proximity payments (like Apple Pay) to hit $118 billion a year in the U.S., up from $3.5 billion in 2014. Digital payment options (like Twitter Buy and PayPal) already make up a huge chunk of online transactions.
It seems we’re on the verge of crossing a divide where people no longer think twice about using their smartphone or computer to pay for their purchases instead of a wallet.
Brands nudge the way
Still, challenges remain. As the New York Times noted back in April, many traditional-minded consumers remain cool to the idea of “digital wallets,” and reminded readers of other businesses that have already trod through this territory, and failed.
They include companies you’ve likely never heard of, like ISIS Wallet — which, for obvious reasons relating to the terrorist group, has had to rebrand on the fly. (They’re now known as Softcard.) But also big names like Google, whose Wallet service launched in 2011 and has wallowed since. Even Facebook introduced its own Buy button in July of this year, to little fanfare or impact.
Many observers think Apple Pay will be the breaking point because of the company’s incredible brand prestige. The company has also been smart to put security issues at the forefront of their effort, reassuring customers about the integrity of their personal financial data, even if they lose their iPhone.
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