Get Ready for the Mobile Wallet

12 January 2017

Like public telephones and fax machines, that nice leather wallet you just received for Christmas will soon be a relic of the past.

Key, wallet and mobile phone; it's a ritual that most of us go through every time we leave the house, but for how much longer? The launch of Apply Pay and Android Pay in New Zealand means that the days of the physical wallet are numbered.

"Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you."  These were the words uttered by Alexander Graham Bell into his newfangled contraption on 10 March 1876, and so began the era of the telephone.  Bell's invention went on to revolutionise the world, changing the way we communicate and do business.  The telephone was the foundation for the first electronic social network, more than a century before the birth of Facebook.

For over 125 years the telephone retained largely a single purpose - to allow people to talk to one another over a long distance.  It wasn't until 9 January 2007, when Steve Jobs announced prophetically, "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone", that things changed.  Jobs was launching the iPhone, a smartphone that brought together the worlds of telephony, computing, the internet and entertainment in a single device.  It was a monumental step in the history of technology that has transformed business and social lives forever.

The smartphone quickly became a mobile camera, clock, mailbox, television, radio, bank, department store, gaming platform and so much more.  The open iOS and Android platforms have allowed inventors and entrepreneurs from all over the globe to come up with a never-ending stream of new apps that take advantage of smartphone technology.  There is a smartphone app for just about everything.

The latest smartphone capabilities taking the New Zealand market by storm are the mobile payment systems, Apple Pay and Android Pay.  These new apps are designed to move consumers away from physical wallets packed with cards - few people use cash these days - to a world in which all you need is a smartphone.  It's worth remembering when the smartphone has already taken over part of your physical wallet.  Gone are creased family photos and if you aren't using an app to scan business cards into your phone, you should be.

Apple Pay and Android Pay let you use your smartphone in exactly the same manner as a Visa PayWave or Mastercard Tap & Go credit card.  This non-cash contactless payment method is something most New Zealanders have come to know and love.  All sources point to mobile wallets becoming a massive part of the future payment landscape.

So what do clubs need to do to get ready for Apply Pay, Android Pay and any other mobile wallet app?  The answer is nothing.  As far as the club is concerned the smartphone payment uses the same technology as a tap and go credit card purchase.  Just don't be alarmed when a member pulls out a mobile phone rather than a credit card to settle a bill.

So why haven't we seen more of Apple Pay and Android Pay already in New Zealand? Well, that is because of a dispute between a consortium of the major New Zealand banks, excluding ANZ, and Apple.  The banks have been trying to force Apple to open up the iPhone contactless payment technology for their own apps rather than having the proprietary Apply Pay software.  The reason is simple - the banks don't want to pay Apple merchant fees on every mobile payment transaction using an iPhone. 

So the smartphone is about to replace the physical wallet, but what about those pesky keys?  They are soon to be replaced by a smartphone too.  And if you are worried about what happens when you lose your iPhone, there is a simple answer: buy an Apple Watch.

(SOURCE: Daniel Mitchell, ClubsNSW Manager - Gambling Policy, ClubLIFE December 2016)

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