Apple jumped into the stagnant mobile payments field with this week’s announcement of “Apple Pay.”
Among the players that will be ready upon its October launch are three companies with a large footprint in the Twin Cities: US Bank, Wells Fargo and Target, with all keeping an eye on using the technology to increasing customer convenience.
“We learned about the opportunity to be part of this right when Apple Pay launched,” Target spokesman Eddie Baeb said. “It just sort of aligned perfectly with the changes around mobile commerce and online shopping that make them easier and more seamless.”
Both US Bank and Wells Fargo plan to make their debit and credit cards available for use wherever merchants offer contactless payment terminals. Target will take advantage of Apple Pay online and through its iPhone app, but has no current plans to integrate it into brick-and-mortar stores.
Mobile payment systems are not new. Products from Google, Square, and PayPal all exist to perform transactions similar to Apple Pay offerings. But by and large, these companies have failed to entice consumers to ditch the plastic, in part because the technology is in few phones and many payment terminals either don’t accept the technology or have it turned off. Apple is trying to change that by getting assurances from 220,000 stores that Apple Pay will be accepted, including McDonalds, Walgreens and Whole Foods.
With mobile devices increasing drawing attention—a 2013 Internet trends study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers found that people check their phones 150 times per day on average—some think mobile payments are simply the next obvious iteration.
“Human interaction has been affected by mobile,” said Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer for payments at US Bank. “If I’m already using my mobile device for all sorts of features throughout the day, doesn’t it seem like a disconnect to not be able to make a payment on it?”
Still, security concerns loom, especially after several high-profile security breaches both locally and nationally with Target, Supervalu, Dairy Queen and Home Depot among the businesses affected in recent months. Apple had its own security snafu recently, where hackers were able to take advantage of a loophole in the company’s iCloud system that resulted in several celebrities’ nude photos spread across the web.
Perhaps because of that, Apple is marketing Apple Pay’s security features prominently, including the fact that it won’t track or store any transaction information. Card numbers are never stored on the device or shared with merchants —instead, a “device account number” accompanies a unique-to-each-transaction “dynamic security code.” Apple touts the technology’s security advantages over plastic, too: Apple Pay means you never have to show an actual card, which means name, card number and security code are safely private.
Corporate analysts are divided on the prospects of mobile payments, with some concerned that consumers will need convincing their data is safe. Others believe Apple has the marketing prowess to pull it off.
At launch, Apple Pay will only be compatible with the just-announced iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch.
This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.