Contactless NFC systems have been slow to take off, but Apple Pay could help change that, especially if it's as easy to use as Tim Cook demonstrated in his Tuesday keynote. Users simply hold their thumb on the Touch ID sensor and tap the phone against a payment terminal.
The NFC technology is based on a standard developed by credit card companies that's already in use at about 220,000 locations in the U.S. Google Wallet also uses NFC but hasn't employed tokenization. It also hasn't been widely adopted by consumers.
According to Cook, that's because the solutions today don't focus enough on the user experience. "We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best."
A successful roll out of Apple Pay would accelerate competition and help hasten the roll out of NFC terminals, said John Beatty, president of engineering at Clover Networks, which produces payment terminals for retailers. The company is already advertising systems that accept Apple Pay.
"In my opinion, it could be a tipping point," he said. "The U.S. is moving to chip and sign ... so you insert a chip card and it takes a little bit of time to authorize and you still need a signature. If you instead have people pull out their phones, put their thumb on the Touch ID and pay, it's a more pleasant and faster payment experience."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.