Apple (AAPL) is revving a loyalty program called iPoints as part of a new mobile merchant payment system to be launched laterthis year.
General consensus in our world is that the opportunity is ripe for Apple. The merchant acquiring business is a highly fragmented industry from a selling perspective, with a confusing matrix of independent sellers and pricing schemes that merchants have little time or patience to decipher.
Apple’s skill at simplifying processes could make their mobile payment offering a hit. Like Square, Apple will likely partner with a major payment processor behind the scenes (Square runs its processing volume through Chase Paymentech).
When mobile payments are combined with their line of Macs, the Apple move could win a wide range of merchants and retailers.
Apple is joining an increasingly crowded field of new players offering simplified pricing models and no-hassle merchant on-boarding.
There will be multiple winners in the mobile wallet space. The emerging players to watch include Apple, Square, Google, MCX (merchant consortium) and PayPal. However, some big players have already thrown in the towel including terminal giant Verifone.
Our sources indicate Apple will launch NFC, or near-field communications, into its upcoming new iPhones models as soon as June 2012 with the upgraded iPhone 5s.