What I think will become the most important feature for smartphones hasn’t really gotten a lot of recognition yet. It was revealed in what was called when Steve Jobs ran the demonstration the “one more thing” spot where Jobs would deliver the most amazing feature of the day but still not much recognition. The feature is called Apple Pay and is only available on the iPhone 6 and 6 plus.
This payment system uses NFC (near-field communications) technology and when it’s implemented all you have to do is hold your phone to a sensor at the cash register and then use TouchID to complete the purchase. There have been other NFC-based payment systems in recent years but they haven’t met with great success. There was Google Wallet for the Android phones but wireless carriers didn’t get on board because they had their own proprietary systems.
To get Apple Pay working you have to have a credit that’s on file with iTunes or add another one by taking a photo of it with your new iPhone. But, Apple doesn’t store your card number on your phone or in iCloud. Instead they use what it calls the “Secure Element” which is an encryption method that disguises your payment information. Apple generates a card number for one time use and the same goes for the security coded imprinted on the back of your credit or debit card.
To use the system you hold your iPhone 6 or plus up to a store’s NFC sensor. But, the cashier can’t see your card number, security code or even your name. Even if you lose your phone you can use Find My iPhone to shut down payments from that missing device.
So far about 220,000 stores already have the technology in place to accept Apple Pay including the Disney Store, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Nike, Subway, Whole Foods Market and of course the Apple Store.
Apple is also collaborating with credit card companies like American Express, MasterCard and Visa as well and with the largest US banks like Bank of America, USAA, Chase and Well Fargo among others.
So like I said, this is going to be BIG!!!
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Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and he is a Broker/Associate at Sotheby’s International Realty.