Christopher Krywulak believes it’s only a matter of time until we will all be paying with our smartphones.
“I would expect that in two years time that mobile payments is going to be one of the dominant ways that we will pay,” Krywulak said at his session entitled “Rethink In-Store Retail: Connecting with Today’s Mobile Consumer.”
“I am bullish on mobile payments because it takes away friction and gives a better experience,” he explained.
Smartphone manufacturers, banks and credit card companies have been trying to usher in mobile payments for years. Google debuted their wallet in the United States back in 2011. But Krywulak believes that it will be Apple that will make it happen.
“I think that Apple will probably be the one that will really start to tip mobile payments over. With the introduction of iBeacons and the fingerprint scanner their next step is putting all the pieces together to create a digital wallet which I suspect will be coming soon,” said Krywulak.
iBeacon is a new feature which launched with iOS 7. The feature has been underlined by many in the media as one of the unsung heroes of the new update. Krywulak couldn’t agree more. “This has the potential to be a game changer. The one drawback is that it only works on Apple.”
iBeacons is a new capability for iOS which developers can exploit in their apps. Essentially, apps that use iBeacon will be able to understand where the iOS device is in relation to a device acting as an iBeacon (this could be another iOS device or a standalone iBeacon). The magic behind iBeacon is BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy, a version of Bluetooth which is extremely battery-friendly.
There are many applications for iBeacons, especially in a retail setting. In Krywulak’s session he pointed out that this technology could be used for in-store proximity marketing as well as facilitate mobile payments.
Of course BLE and iBeacons is going up against the current standard being pushed for mobile payments, NFC. In the session directly after Krywulak, Derek Colfer from VISA Canada expressed VISA’s commitment to NFC which is slowly being integrated into Android and BlackBerry devices on the SIM level across Canada.
Colfer was quick to point out that the only smartphone manufacturer not supporting NFC is Apple, but didn’t seem to be too concerned about this. When asked about BLE and its potential impact on the success of NFC, Colfer only commented on the fact that Bluetooth usually creates a battery drain not present with NFC.
With the likes of Mastercard, VISA and Interac here in Canada all working with their merchants on the use of NFC, the jury is still out if Bluetooth, the newcomer to the mobile payment party, will win out. But with Apple in its corner (and recently PayPal with their own Beacon BLE solution this month) there is a good chance that Krywulak may be on to something. After all, Apple has been known to make or break technology choices (ahem: Flash). Time will tell.