Apple Pay was announced by CEO Tim Cook with much fanfare during his break out “one more thing” presentation delivering new iPhones and the much anticipated Apple Watch. Apple Pay is no where near as sexy as new hardware but it exemplifies the expanding reach of Apple and the growing utility of their global ecosystem. With an estimated 800 million credit cards already on file as part of the iTunes store, Apple has finally moved to tap a significant feature. Other platforms have attempted to create a more seamless and secure payment process like Google Wallet with limited success. The combination of trust, security and ubiquity were powerful enough for Apple to convince big name credit card companies such as American Express, Visa and MasterCard to sign up early – thus creating a mini-stampede. Forrester recently was quoted saying, “Without a doubt, the rush is on to cooperate”. Even in Europe retailers are signing up. No one wants to get left behind as the innovation train leaves the station. The two most notable hold outs are the much maligned Walmart and the stumbling Best Buy that may – someday -be show-roomed out of business.
Sure there is a significant cost to upgrading NFC terminals in thousands of locations. But this was going to occur anyway due to the mandated switch to EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) cards. These are the credit cards with embedded chips that are already widely in use in Europe and other parts of the world. In fact the US is the last G20 country to make the transition. The antiquated magnetic strip, prone to cyber theft, has had its day in the sun and is finally on its way out.
Recently there have been multiple high level hacking attacks on large retailers such as Target – and now last week Home Depot – where consumers are understandably leery about letting this companies keep their credit cards on file. Home Depot apparently ignored fraud warnings about credit card hacking since way back in 2008. Can you blame consumers for being upset?
Then along came COIN. With great fanfare and a super slick viral video, COIN ran a pretail crowdfunding campaign to fund their vision of one card to rule them all. No need to lug the wallet around. Every credit card you need will be in a single credit card size device. If you lose it – no worries since the finder would not know the secret passcode. And by the way , your iPhone will alert you if you happen to leave it behind at the bar.
Just last month COIN had to issue an apology to early backers – those who had paid for a COIN but were in the queue to receive one soon – as they delayed delivery because the card was not quite ready for release.
But why should you want to carry a COIN card when beginning next month Apple Pay will make your iPhone your wallet too? If you have any doubt as to whether or not people who funded the campaign are asking the same question – cruise on over to their Facebook page and read about it for yourself.
Apple Pay totally makes sense for consumers AND for retailers too. The combination of a Biometric process and a unique transaction code makes it way more difficult (but not impossible) to hack – passing by EMV that was – until recently the future of payments. Retailers in the US have traditionally been on the hook for credit card fraud. An opportunity to reduce this considerable cost makes them happy to pay Apple the rumored 15 basis points on each transaction.
COIN may have fallen pray to the fast paced freight train of technology and innovation. A great idea but a few years too late. Perhaps there is a pivot to be had – the COIN team is certainly having this very same discussion (beginning ten days ago when Apple Pay was announced). Hey if Joan Rivers can send a tweet from the great beyond, promoting the iPhone 6 – anything is possible. I am convinced.
COIN’s blog, twitter account and Facebook page has been crickets for some time. That is with the exception of the poor guy who is responding to refund requests.