Whatever you think about Apple, you can't fault the company for any lack of ambition. Its latest wheeze? Just to "replace cash."
Yup, Steve Jobs may be taking a back seat for the time being but Apple's intent to stay ahead of the game and keep competitors on the back foot is as determined as ever. Now Apple says it is "aiming to replace cash" with compelling, robust, secure and easy-to-use mobile payment apps and systems for the iPhone and iPad.
The idea is to make both hard cash and credit card payments redundant for millions of consumers and strong rumour has it that Apple is prepared heavily to subsidise special new payment terminals in shops and restaurants as it gets into Near Field Communications (NFC) to take on new rivals such as Visa and Mastercard. Others say Apple may even be prepared to give the payment terminals away, swallowing the cost for the sake of entree to a market potentially worth trillions of dollars.
If anything is going to make NFC devices popular with the public it will be Apple devices.
The technology (and applications for it) have been around for a while but have failed to capture the public's imagination. Perhaps the most well-known and widely used of NFC apps is the Oyster Card that permits travel on London's underground and overground railways and the capital's bus network. It is used by millions of people every day.
However, what makes most other NFC apps problematic is that the all-important payment chain is fragmented and partial. In North America and Europe, payments have to be passed through a wide variety of agents in a trail running all the way from the handset manufacturers, the mobile network operators and the retailers through the credit and debit card companies and the banks. All of these, and more, want a slice of the action in what analysts say will be a multi-trillion dollar market, but the sheer lenght of the payment chain will NFC apps and services cumbersome and difficult to manage, police and monitor.
However, companies like Apple that already have close relationships with customers and hence privileged access to consumer financial data will be off to a flying start. It's not for nothing that Apple says its NFC services will be integrated with iTunes.
Apple isn't alone in trying to elbow its way into the NFC space; the Google Nexus S comes with an NFC chip and Nokia is looking to do the same with its new smart comms devices.
Martyn Warwick, TelecomTV. You can view the original article here.