Apple Pay: The app that eclipsed the toys

I admit it. I’m an iOS junkie.Apple$Composite

Okay, okay, I’m an Android OS junkie, too. Call me fickle, but being in the business kind of requires me to be versatile.

Last week was nirvana for my iOS side, which was eager to learn about the new iPhone 6 versions and, of course, Apple Watch. The toys did not disappoint, but the announcement of an app by the name of Apple Pay seems to have stolen the spotlight. Perhaps rightly so; time will tell.

The business press heralds Apple Pay as a mobile payment breakthrough. International Business Times ran the headline, “Apple’s Biggest Launch May Not Be The Watch, Or The iPhone, But Apple Pay.” Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman opined that Wall Street is more enamored of the app than the devices.

Why the excitement all of a sudden? It’s not as if bankers haven’t been working on mobile payment for a few years (which in technology is tantamount to “forever”), and it’s not as if payment products like Google Wallet haven’t already launched. Yet there is growing speculation that Apple Pay will be the app that takes mobile payment to ubiquity.

It helps that Apple for once set aside its penchant for playing only with Apple devices. Instead of requiring use of Apple’s proprietary iBeacon, Apple Pay works with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which many merchants already have in place.

It’s a smart move. Fiegerman writes, “Apple has partnered with several big banks and credit card companies for transactions on the platform and says the service will work in more than 200,000 retail locations in the United States.”

With Walgreens, Starbucks, and other notable merchants among those 200,000, Apple Pay will be off to a good start. Moreover, Apple’s participation may accelerate adoption among straggling merchants.

As for security, The Verge’s Dante D’Orazio reports, “Apple is using ‘Device Account Numbers’ for each of your cards, which means that your actual card number isn’t transferred to the merchant. There’s also a ‘transaction-specific dynamic security code’ to help keep your payment info secure and prevent hackers from skimming your account number and using it for another purchase.” I might mention, too, that authentication of payments by use of Touch ID adds another layer of security. But don’t relax. Anyone in this industry knows that security and hacking are engaged in a perpetual arms race. If Apple’s security is sound, it means only that it’s the hackers’ move.

Since I use both iOS and Android, would you care to know which one I like better? I’m not telling. Apologies if lunch was riding on the answer.

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