Two Techcrunch articles lay out Apple’s position in the market:
“Whether it builds or buys, or does a little bit of both, mobile payments could be a huge opportunity for Apple within the next few years.
Imagine if your iPhone became your wallet? The dream of turning mobile phones into wallets has been pursued for a long time by many companies, but Apple is in a unique position to make mobile payments more mainstream. Apple already handles payments very well through iTunes, which boasts 160 million active credit card accounts. PayPal only has 90 million.”
As I have previously pointed out, mobile transactions will begin with virtual or near virtual (iTunes songs) and move into the physical. More from TechCrunch: “Over time, those payments could spread from digital and virtual goods to real-world purchases. Apple is not thinking about adding a near-field communications (NFC) chip into the next iPhone for nothing. The more people use their iPhones to actually purchase goods, the more indispensable it will become.”
A little more on Apple’s NFC from Gigaom: “Initially, according to the report, the iPhone 5 would work sort of like an electronic wallet that carries around your personal information and allows you to use it on other Macs. That could include address book information, logins and more. Later, it could fully transform any Mac into a mirror image of your own.”
The other TechCrunch article outlines Apple’s and Google’s interest in the mobile commerce “start up” BOKU. BOKU has the pedigree of investors to almost guarantee a big time exit – “Armed with $38 million in funding from a slew of big-name investors such as Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures, Index Ventures, DAG Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, the company aims to allow tens of millions of people across the globe to pay for digital goods and social experiences across the Web using their mobile phones.”
BOKU, in my opinion built a very smart foundation by developing its customer base in emerging markets. Mobile payments offer one of the only approachable solutions to the transfer of money in many world markets. BOKU saw this and aggressively began offering services to meet the demand.
From a BOKU blog post: “Our hard work doing just that with our teams in the Americas, Asia and Europe has made us the biggest mobile payments provider enabling top tier merchants, with coverage in more than 60 countries (we just added Argentina, Israel and Brazil), and integration with more than 220 different carriers. We enable more than 2 billion consumers worldwide to “pay by mobile,” and we do a new transaction every second.”
That hard work is going to pay off as the US readies itself for a new commerce user behavior.