The Battle of Mobile Payments

March 27, 2015

Colleen Vaughan

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Look around you. Whether in the office, at a Starbucks, or somewhere else, there are more than likely people around you with their hands and faces glued to a mobile device. You may be even reading this from your mobile device. With the massive adoption of mobile devices worldwide has come a slew of companies, both big box and start-ups, trying to get in on the action. The emergence of mobile devices is so great that even tried-and-true accessories like the wallet are becoming obsolete. Who needs a wallet stuffed with dusty business cards and unused credit cards when so many convenient mobile payment options are being released? While foundation-building platforms like Google Wallet and Mastercard’s PayPass failed to gain major traction, here’s a breakdown of the mobile payment platforms and apps currently making waves.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay was rolled out in the U.S. in October of last year (with Canada to follow suit in the next few months). Despite the branding power behind it, the adoption rate was initially sluggish because the platform necessitates merchants to equip their existing POS terminals with devoted systems for Apple Pay. However, the company announced last month that it now reaches 700,000 locations across the U.S., with CEO Tim Cook naming 2015 as “the year of Apple Pay.” Purchases through the platform will likely continue to increase as more consumers snatch up the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the only iPhone models rigged with the required NFC radio antennae. How does it work? When at a brick-and-mortar store, the iPhone is held up to a payment terminal next to the cash register which automatically prompts Touch ID (fingerprint capability) to complete the purchase. The convenience of the platform and brand popularity of Apple will only make Apple Pay more ubiquitous as compatibility is geared to more banks, stores and even airlines.

Samsung Pay

Samsung is quickly cashing in on the mobile payment trend with their own platform set to release this summer. Samsung announced the smart decision to utilize the existing payment system LoopPay, rather than require retailers to upgrade or add new systems. LoopPay depends on the magnetic strip readers typically found at retail checkouts. In fact, 10 million locations currently support LoopPay’s system which will put Samsung Pay in the ultimate accessibility “sweet spot” come launchtime. Reports from Korea are also disclosing that all fees are being waived with the payment system. While more accessible than Apple Pay, does Samsung hold the same brand ubiquity?

Venmo

Mobile app Venmo has taken another aspect of payment options and ran with it. Owned by the original payment processing “king” PayPal, Venmo is essentially a mobile wallet that concedes users to transfer money to each other’s bank accounts with a few button taps. Splitting utility bills, paying back a dinner tab or sending money for a taxi favor has never been easier thanks to the app. It wholly replaces the need to give friends and family cash, checks or IOU. The app has particularly taken off on college campuses where splitting bills is the norm.

Where do you see mobile payment platforms and apps going in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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