Will Apple have the same impact on the mobile pay space as they did with iTunes several years ago? They want to, that’s for sure. However there are other heavy hitters in this space as well.
Apple was not the first company into the changing music space either with their iPod and iTunes, but they were the company who caused the rapid change in the space when they entered. And they eventually had the vast majority of market share as well.
With Apple Pay we see the skirmish between Apple, CVS (CVS) , and Rite Aid (RAD) drug stores playing out right now. And I think this will be the first of many similar events as we reinvent and reshape the wireless and mobile pay space.
It’s important to understand that these kinds of opportunities have a life span. Where the Apple iPod and iTunes ruled the industry, today they are not as important as they were a few short years ago. In fact in Apples recent earnings statement you can see how this area is now shrinking for Apple. Every market has a life span.
With regards to mobile pay, this is a space that has been trying to break through and transform the industry for years. There are many companies competing in this space like PayPay, Google (GOOG) Wallet, and now Apple Pay.
In fact there will be another big and important competitor in the space next year called CurrentC. Lot’s of big retail corporations are partnering and investing heavily into a competitive pay technology.
That’s why CVS and Rite Aid turned off the Apple Pay technology over the weekend. They are part of this very large partnership of retailers.
CurrentC is the competing mobile payment system, which will be rolled out in 2015. The Merchant Customer Exchange will operate CurrentC. Other members include roughly 50 chains so far including Wal-Mart (WMT) and Best Buy (BBY) .
These technologies use NFC or near field communications to interact with point-of-sale terminals at retail stores. This allows us to wave our mobile phone and pay for things, like magic. It’s very attractive, although there are differences between the systems and what they do.
Customers and companies will have to decide what they like and what they don’t and then decide which they want to use.
The technology is different, but the result is similar. These are competitors. And I expect there to be more competitors bubbling up over coming years. This will grow in to a very big and very attractive space.
There will be successes and there will be failures.
In the winner’s category are companies like wireless carriers like AT&T (T) Mobility, Verizon Wireless (VZ) , and Sprint (S) . This is an enormous opportunity for them. They can work with all these different technologies.
So it’s important to understand that this will be a very important growth engine for many industry segments. However, it’s also important to understand how some of these new mobile pay entrants will be big successes and other will not.
I think customers will pick and choose the companies and applications they prefer. There will be several different options and it will be like choosing their favorite smartphone.
I think stores will have a choice. Some will only accept one while others will accept several. We’ll have to see how this evolves and eventually pans out.
Just remember, even though this technology has been with us for years with services like PayPal, I expect things to change and grow very quickly going forward. This is definitely an interesting space to watch.
Even though this space has not grown as rapidly as we expected years ago, I think we are about to see things change and quickly. Mobile payments that are made at the retail store cash register should rapidly grow going forward.
Today the level is around $2 billion, but over the next few years that’s expected to rapidly grow to near $200 billion. And it will continue growing. That’s a big jump and a quick jump.
That’s the enormous opportunity that every company wants a piece of. Will there be many competitors that split up the opportunity, or will it be more like the smartphone world, with many competitors, but only two owning the vast majority of market share?
There are lot’s of questions and no answers yet. We’ll have to wait and see. This is the early days. This is the wild-wild-west. This is like the Internet in the 1990’s.
No one really knows at this early date, which ideas will win. The only thing we are all expecting is that this is going to start growing and it will be an important sector to keep an eye on and to participate in.
2015 could be the beginning of a very exciting acceleration in the Mobile Payment space. Finally.
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