Every once in a while, Apple unveils the kind of new technology that gets heads all over the world turning. The event is often preceded by some cryptic invitation, as it was in this case, with a teaser poster emblazoned with the date “9.9.2014.” When that day arrived, audiences were not disappointed, learning not only about the sixth generation of the iPhone, but also the company’s long-anticipated smartwatch. Yet one of the most significant announcements to come out of the Cupertino, California, event was not about a shiny new product, but instead a new service – namely, mobile payments.
Mobile processing now and in the future
Apple’s product, called Apple Pay, will enable users of various company devices – including the iPhone, and now the upcoming smartwatch – to turn those mechanisms into payment methods, according to The New York Times. Imagine going to the grocery store and swiping your phone to buy your produce. Or getting a haircut and tapping your watch to pay a stylist. As Apple CEO Tim Cook explained to the crowd at the unveiling, the notion of using a physical card that contains a privileged number is risky and has become outmoded.
“We’re totally reliant on the exposed numbers and the outdated and vulnerable mag stripe,” he said. “Which all of us know aren’t so secure.”
But it’s not just Apple that’s riding the mobile payment train. The company’s announcement about Apple Pay is just one in a line of developments that are helping to cement a broad push toward mobilizing payments. Many retailers, for instance, have swapped out traditional POS devices for mobile commerce apps that make processing customer payments quick and efficient. In addition, enterprises like Chase Bank run mobile apps that enable customer payments and transactions to be carried out via a mobile device. Apple’s announcement about Apple Pay suggests that mobile payment methods are only gaining further traction moving forward.
How retailers can prepare themselves
Apple’s move into the mobile payment world signals a broader push toward entirely mobile-based payment systems. In many ways, the widespread adoption of mobile payment systems promises greater security for both patrons and enterprises. As Cook pointed out at the Apple conference, the company’s mobile payment system will ensure security by not retaining credit card information on the mobile device being used, or within Apple’s servers. The Wall Street Journal reported that card issuers are already adopting Apple Pay, and soon may be the day when it’s the primary payment method for most people out there.
While certainly a productive advancement, the move toward mobile payment is also something that retailers need to prepare for. POS systems, for instance, will have to be updated to accommodate the transition, and companies will need to be proactive about that to meet the needs of their customers. But as these changes begin to happen, it’s imperative that retailers remember one indispensable business asset: security. By implementing cloud data protection, companies can join the mobile payment revolution without fear of exposing themselves to risk.