Cardless payments, mobile payments, have been common on Japan and other parts of the world for almost a decade. Yet the technology never seemed to gain any traction in the US. That may soon change with Apple’s announcement on Tuesday. The iPhone 6 and their new Apple Watch will allow people to store their credit card account information in the Apple Passbook, giving them the ability to make digital payments right from their smartphones.
The credit card companies, big banks and retailers such as Subway, Macy’s, Staples and McDonalds are all on board. A few large retailers, such as Target and Best Buy, are holding off to see if the technology gets a foothold.
Like these holdouts, small businesses will most likely wait until the public has fully embraced the technology before they invest in the infrastructure required to take these payments. Of course the public will only embrace it of enough retailers do as well. But being the first on the block to take these types of payments can give a small business a big advantage over their competition. Especially around the holidays. If a shop is currently using text marketing, sending an announcement to their customers via text that they and now use their phones to buy items could give a local business a big boost this holiday season.
Of course there is a risk. If the technology doesn’t take off the investment in infrastructure, however slight it might be, could be lost. But if the rest of the advanced world is any indication, mobile payments ARE coming. Apple has a history of getting the buying public to change their habits (who buys CDs anymore?). Given that, maybe being an early adopter of this Apple backed technology isn’t as risky as it sounds.