Apple, the company known for their uncanny ability of taking already existing concepts and turning them into something popular may be soon moving on to their next big idea. It all began with word of the company hiring experts in NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. The most obvious use seemed to be a method of purchasing items using your smartphone as a credit card by literally scanning or swiping the device. And right now the big rumor circulating the internet is that the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4G or iPhone 4GS, or whatever other name Apple chooses for their next smartphone) will use mobile payment technology. This sort of use is very popular in Japan, a country where it’s said that people treat their cellphones like wallets.
The US smartphone users have flirted with the idea, but it’s nowhere near being widely used by the public. That doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t in a position to popularize technology as they’ve managed to do in the past.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that this may actually work:
1. Convenience. You carry your phone anyway, why not just make it your new wallet?
Many of us have to take our phones with us wherever we go. This especially the case with smartphone users who bought their devices as all-in-one handsets that are designed to allow them to check and answer their email as well as the various status updates that come with all of their social networks. It’s getting to the point where you may be able to get away with forgetting your wallet at home, but you can’t do the same with your phone. While that may sound like a stretch, but many of us are probably able to manage better when we forget our wallet at home than when we forget our phone.
2. It can become more secure than using a wallet.
Image from iwalletasia
This may not immediately seem like the case, but there are preventative measures that can be taken with your smartphone that are not available with your wallet. Let’s assume that one day your phone carries your credit card info. Perhaps there is a code you must enter before using your card (much like a pin for your debit card). In a very bad scenario your phone may get lost or stolen. Imagine having the ability to go to your computer and brick or lock your device remotely, or track where transactions happen and when, making it much easier to find someone who does gain access to your account through your smartphone.
3. Smartphone Sales on are the Rise.
Image from iSupply
Smartphones are becoming much more common every day. Each quarter, we hear that more and more smartphones are being sold. As their popularity increases, so will other uses such as mobile payments. We are constantly striving for convenience, and the idea of carrying around one device that can do it all, and make our payments becomes more enticing as users see it become the norm.
4. Apple is behind it.
If the iPhone 5 does in fact use NFC technology then mobile transactions may be the next big thing. There are millions of iPhone users out there, and if anyone has had luck pushing products and technology out the door, it’s Apple. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you have to agree that Apple is good at how they use their technology, but many of us can probably agree that Apple is good at taking those ideas and putting it in the hands of millions of users, in turn making other tech companies interested.
5. Newer generations will accept new forms of payment much more readily
This kid is ready for mobile payments
Say what you will about kids these days, but the truth is that they are learning more about tech and computers than many of us did at a much earlier age. Like it or not, we are reaching a point where 10 year olds can probably use a computer better than many adults can (whether or not they should spend so much time on the computer is another argument entirely, so we won’t go there). We are now seeing teenagers carry around fancy smartphones and other gadgets, and younger kids are practically born with an iPod in their hands. One thing we can be sure of is that they will be more willing to accept the technology than the older folks who will still worry about how safe mobile transactions will be.
Is A Mobile Payments System in line for the iPhone 5?
Right now, it’s all rumor, but it’s important to note that both Apple and Google (maker of the Android OS) have been in talks with mobile payments startup BOKU. This, coupled with news that Apple has been looking in to NFC technology, indicates that both are interested in at least one of two things: 1) Mobile payment systems 2) Acquiring talent specializing in mobile payment systems. None of the parties involved are talking, but it’s not unlike Apple to pick up smaller companies in hopes of expanding their technologies. As Steve Jobs said during Apple’s most recent earnings call, “We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along that we’re in unique opportunity to take advantage us because of our cash,” he mentioned that the company wants to “keep our powder dry” because he feels that “there one or more” such opportunities down the road for Apple.