Apple Pay launched this week, and while the fledgling payment system has limited availability, it is already being heralded as the app that will finally move mobile payments forward. Could Apple Pay, finally, fundamentally change retail payments and shopper behavior, or will it be just another option added to the virtual wallet?
While Apple Pay (NASDAQ:AAPL) promises to simplify transactions, it has limitations. For now, it works only with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Users simply tap to pay with the NFC chip inside the new devices. The Apple Watch, scheduled for release later this year, will also function as a mobile wallet, and new iPads will have some Pay functionality, but owners of older-model iPhones are out of luck.
Several larger retail chains are equipped with NFC POS terminals and now allow shoppers to pay with Apple Pay including Macy's (NYSE:M), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Target (NYSE:TGT), Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM), although Walmart and Best Buy are notably absent from the list.
Some are integrating the payment system in their mobile apps. Customers at Panera Bread can order ahead and pay inside their mobile app. No swiping necessary.
There is a lively debate to be had about whether or not mobile payments will catch on and good points to be made on either side.
There's the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp focused on how using a credit card really isn't all that difficult but tapping a phone requires a new learned skill. Then there is the "but it is broken" argument, that rightfully points out the vulnerabilities in using credit cards and the extra layer of protection biometric verification can provide in these retail data breach-prone times.
Of course there will inevitably be holes in the system and opening-day hiccups. Those are to be expected with any new technology. But there's a lot to be gained by retailers should Apple Pay take off.
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