Is Apple Preparing For a Mobile Payment System?

A few friends and I happened to take notice of Apple’s admission that they have 400 million iTunes accounts set up. I found not only the number interesting, but I found it interesting (and perhaps odd? Out of place?) that Apple announced that at WWDC yesterday. Below is a quick email I shot to my friends on this.

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I’m still trying to figure out why Apple released those numbers yesterday. Given all the announcements for hardware and software, the “oh, by the way, we have 400 million credit cards on file” seemed a bit out of place.

I’ve been using LevelUp a good bit around town here. It’s made by the SCVNGR people (foursquare competitor) and is fairly easy to use. Sign up, link a card to it, and then it generates a QR code on your phone when it’s time to pay. If you feel the card/app has been compromised you can kill that QR code and generate a new one. At the venue they just scan your phone with another mobile phone and you’re done. I remember when there were literally only a few places in town that took it but now it’s pretty widespread.
Next up on the menu is Sprint working on their own NFC mobile payment system (which many are viewing as a knock on Google Wallet as Sprint is also in support of that). The thing that I find interesting about Sprint’s play is that it’s in direct competition with the other mobile carriers (AT&T, T-mobile and Verizon) who are the main backers behind yet another mobile payment system, Isis. An ambitious effort on Sprint’s part to take on the big boys…or could it be their competitive advantage to not have so many stakeholders? They also claim it will be a different approach than Isis.

So…Apple…what’cha gonna do? And when?

el Chia, he who probably should have blogged this

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Other items to keep in mind are how Foursquare and American Express linked up a couple years ago, PayPal and their mobile solution, and loosely connected would be Square and their competitors.

LevelUp users are spending about $2 million each month. Not bad for a product not widely launched and definitely not bad for something that’s not even considered a real contender.

Perhaps I should find a way to get into the mobile payment industry.