Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stiff Challenge 

Apple debuted its version of mobile payment on Tuesday.  Already, skeptics are weighing in on the cloudy future for the technology.  The reason for doubts is one that held back other systems from success -- conservatism on the part of retailers and consumers.  So far, there hasn't been a clear advantage to waving the mobile phone near a merchant's point of sale system and having it record data wirelessly.  Merchants will need to upgrade systems to handle Apple's technology.  That costs money.  Apple will want a percentage of each transaction as payment for its system.  More money out the door.  Consumers have to adapt to passing their phones near the system and not swiping a card.  That requires a change in behavior.  Consumers also will be concerned about the safety of such systems.  This will take time and intensive communication.  Way back when banks introduced ATMs, they stationed people next to the machine and had them walk consumers through depositing and withdrawing money.  Banks had a vested interest in doing this because they wanted to cut down on tellers and bricks and mortar.  There is no equivalent reason for mobile payment.  Apple has taken on a huge marketing and PR job to make sure its system is a success.  The company is capable of doing it, but there won't be much progress initially.


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