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The Apple Pay effect

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If you have any interest at all in technology you can’t have missed that Apple Pay is coming to a market near you later this summer: in the case of the UK, as early as July. And everyone is very excited. Very excited indeed.

Two thirds of consumers in the UK are keen – even old dodders like me – and the excitement that has greeted the launch world wide of the payment mechanism is perhaps even more vibrant than it has been in the US, where it went live some months ago.

But this is so much more than just the roll out of a mobile payments tool. Apple Pay’s UK launch also sees it incorporate loyalty, making it much more like a wallet than just an easy way to pay. This is perhaps what will really excite retailers .

And retailers need to be excited. Right now Apple Pay needs merchants much more than merchants need Apple Pay. Loyalty could be what helps swing them into using it. In the US, consumers are much more into the idea of a combined loyalty wallet and simple payment tool and this could well be what swings it for UK shoppers and retailers.

Already here in the UK, MasterCard has announced that it is Apple Pay ready, and Ocado was one of the first retailers to announce that it was to offer Apple Pay when it goes live in July. It will be interesting to see what then happens with other retailers – especially the big names – in the UK across the summer as Apple Pay becomes a reality.

Visa meanwhile has opted for Android Pay – although I am sure that it too will shortly announce a tie up with Apple Pay as well.

It will also be interesting to see how many of the over-excited consumers do actually attempt to adopt it – and what impact this actually has on mobile payments generally. Already Zapp, which promised so much, seems to have lost its way and is still to launch.

A survey of payments professionals says that mobile payments will be mainstream worldwide in five years time. Apple Pay will play a part in making that happen. However, the same study five years ago also predicted that mobile payments would be mainstream by now.

In a week that saw both the mPayments Summit and the Payments Expo take place in London, it is interesting to see that there is still huge debate about where mobile payments fits in. A presentation at mPayments summit by Tim Green of Mobilemoneyrevolution outlined 35 different mobile payment services that are in play at the moment: and they are just the main ones.

There are so many different ways to do this and it is clear that it will become a key way people pay for things, but no one really knows how that will play out. Merchants are all sitting back and watching and waiting to see where the herd goes.

Apple Pay will garner headlines aplenty and has the profile to make a dent in how people pay online and in store, but the over riding message from these payment events this week has been that there will be no one key way to pay. Several mobile payment tools will emerge and will be used in different circumstances – much as today you can pay by cash, card, paypal and text, depending on what you are doing.

The big question is what will these tools be and how do merchants and retailers of today work out where to put their investment. There is a still a long way for the mobile payments story to run. Are you up for the marathon?

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