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Desire for Mobile Payments - Driven by the Rattle & Hum of U2

NFC

I overheard a woman at a retailer’s checkout line asking the cashier if they could accept payments from Apple’s new iPhone 6. The cashier didn’t know. The woman then went on about how excited she was at the idea of making a purchase via her phone, leading to a domino effect—with others chiming in and asking questions of other cashiers who were also unsure of if/when their point of sale terminals would be ready to accept a mobile payment.

As I thought about that dialogue, I too became excited. Not necessarily for the mobile payment capabilities, but at the idea that it had people talking. It’s likely consumers will not only continue to ask cashiers,  but also inquire with store management, or more likely turn to social media to find out if and how retailers are going to hop onboard the mobile payment train (according to Apple, more than 220,000 can already accept them). This is a great example of how, if done right, a market event can shine a bright light on a technology and catapult it into the mainstream.

My colleague Mark Ranta, a self-proclaimed technophile, talked about his “lukewarm” response toward Apple for not going far enough with their latest release.  In his post, he talked about how they were merely catching up to the competition by adding NFC payments to their devices.  Separately, my colleague Paul McMeekin shared the findings of an informal survey among his social circle in his recent post where 70% said they wouldn’t use their phone to make a payment.  But unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you can’t miss the conversation that’s going on in the media and the marketplace. In fact, I have one friend who’s created a daily countdown until his iPhone 6 Plus arrives – in November (note to self: un-follow that friend on Facebook until November 6 passes).

Aside from the Watch, Apple hasn’t delivered anything ground-breaking. But they have created awareness and desire. The buildup to “what will be included in iPhone 6,” coupled with the media frenzy that followed the launch and their record-shattering giveaway of U2 on iTunes, created the perfect storm of awareness. Innovative and new technology will continue to come at us at light speed.  Some good.  Some not so good.  Sometimes technology, like NFC, can sit around for a while waiting for its big break. When you can create enough buzz and momentum to boost the desire of consumers like Apple has, you’ve taken the lead in the race.