Back to the Future with #ApplePay

I’m having a case of Deja Vu watching the hype-filled Apple circus performance this afternoon (or should I say “cirque du pomme?). 

After personally hyping for the past three or four years that Apple would upset the (money) cart with something oh so innovative in mobile payments, I seem so underwhelmed by today’s announcement about Apple Pay.  In fact, I’m leaning towards a flashback to 2006 (ancient times in cell phone years) when Nokia launched the 6131, generally tagged as the first NFC-equipped phone.

Ringmaster Cook says ApplePay will launch in October and will be available only on the new iPhones. ApplePay will be integrated with some of the popular discount and “deal-of-the-day” shopping sites including Target, Groupon and Uber.  While a few steps ahead of the generally still recession-battered banking and vanilla credit card issuers and behemoths, the discounts through ApplePay are basically just ads from merchants who are targeting you based on what you’ve bought in the past.  

The NFC announcement is about as dated and as oh-so-yesterday as some Indian car maker announcing it’s offering a new car with intermittent windshield wipers as standard equipment. A bazillion retailers including McDonald’s, Nike, Subway and Whole Foods already support NFC, so by default will support ApplePay.  Whatever.

How many people with NFC-equipped phones pay with their phone?  I’d like to see some stats, please!

No surprise to hear Cook promise Apple will not store debit and credit card numbers on the phone. Instead, a chip nicknamed “Secure Element” will store encrypted payment information.  You’ll enter your credit and debit card info through Passbook.

All that encryption may help slow down the sticky-fingered crooks should your phone be lost or stolen.  That’s because Mr. Cook promises consumers can block payments made on the device, without cancelling their card.  Although I’m still trying to figure out how you cancel payment access to your phone if you don’t have the phone to cancel payment access to the phone.  I guess I’ll have to call Dr. Suess to figure that one out.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are giving it a thumbs-up, with Visa rumored to be offering Apple a sizable cut of the lucrative merchant interchange fees, with further revenue share coming in from Bank of America and Chase.