Now boarding with Apple’s Passbook: two more major airlines

Lets hope Qantas and Virgin have plans for Passbook and Australia as well.


It looks like United Airlines (s ual) isn’t the only airline that will integrate boarding passes with Apple’s(s AAPL) new Passbook feature coming in iOS 6. Both American Airlines (s amr) and Delta Airlines (s dal) are likely on board as well, according to travel industry blog Skift.

Passbook, if you’ll recall, is an Apple-created app that can hold digital boarding passes, rail tickets, movie and sporting event tickets, hotel confirmation info, coupons, gift cards and more. We got a preview in June, which showed United and Amtrak tickets, as well as Starbucks (s sbux) digital gift cards and a Target (s tgt) reward card in use. Obviously the more businesses that integrate with Passbook, the more useful the feature will be.

It’s not intended to be just a central repository; it’s supposed to be a smart tool. Passbook is location-aware and time-sensitive: when you arrive at the airport or movie…

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The Battle For Smartphone Supremacy – Infographic

The Main Street Analyst

How often do you use your smartphone to peruse a website? According to a recent survey, over the course of the past year visits to leading ecommerce websites from consumers’ mobile devices have skyrocketed. And the battle for smartphone supremacy is intensifying.

The infographic below illustrates the direction in which the mobile commerce is headed, and shows the race between iPhone and Android.

Digital marketing technology company Monetate issued the report from which this information is extracted. The report analyzed more than 100 million online shopping experiences to come up with the data below.

Have you shopped more frequently from your mobile device in the past year?

Source:, Monetate

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Why talk down NFC for the iPhone 5? It’s in the trough of disillusionment

Mashable came out today with another report on “9 Most believable rumours about the iPhone 5“.  Eight of them were positive new features expected on the new iPhone to be announced by Apple on September 12th, one was negative – No NFC (Near Field Communications).  This quoted the Anandtech article from a couple of weeks ago that thought that the metal back of the new iPhone would stop NFC from being included as there was no room for the antenna.  This, despite the fact that Apple was in a great position to become a major player in Mobile Payments using NFC.

But, as seen in my recent post here, Apple has a patent that allows the NFC antenna to be imbedded in the front Touchscreen – a more natural place for the NFC antenna anyway from a user perspective.  If anyone bothers to read the comments (August 31st) on that article they would also notice that this patent has also been commented on as the reason why Apple will release NFC and it will be front facing.

Why is everyone still sticking to this (false) line, that the new iPhone will not ship with NFC? Well, I think I have the answer. In August Gartner released it’s annual Hype Cycle Report for Emerging Technologies (see picture above).  The previous years Hype Cycle report had placed NFC at the peak of Inflated Expectations, but now NFC and NFC Payments had slipped down from that tipping point to the Trough of Disillusionment, with 2-5 years before it becomes generally excepted technology on the Slope of Enlightenment.

People are over the hype. NFC has been talked about for a number of years now, it had been expected in the last 2 Apple iPhones and has now been released in a number of Android phones, including the new Galaxy range from Samsung and the Blackberry from RIM.  The Google Wallet has been developed for Android phones with NFC capabilities (now in Release 2).  Visa and MasterCard and a number of large retailers have rolled out contactless payment terminals at Point of Sale.  Everything is lining up for a major change in payments technology that will come with Mobile Payments and NFC.

NFC is the Tipping Point for Mobile Payments says Gartner, who envision a Cashless World, with every transaction an electronic one  “This will provide enterprises with efficiency and traceability, and consumers with convenience and security. The technologies on the 2012 Hype Cycle that will enable parts of this scenario include NFC payment, mobile over-the-air (OTA) payment and biometric authentication methods. Related technologies will also impact the payment landscape, albeit more indirectly. These include the Internet of Things, mobile application stores and automatic content recognition. The tipping point will be surpassed when NFC payment and mobile OTA payment technologies mature.”

Nothing will give Mobile Payments a greater push up the slope, than Apple coming out with NFC included in the iPhone 5 and linked to the iOS6 Passbook application with coupons, tickets and loyalty schemes.  It’s coming, watch this space.

Will mobile payments be the death of plastic cards?

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article by Brett King (author of Banking 2.0) on the LinkedIn Mobile Payment Strategy group. The article generated a lot of interesting comment from industry players around the world that I thought would be worth sharing on this blog. The link to the article and the LinkedIn group is here.

The article’s premise was that rather than being a threat to Cash payments, Mobile Payments are more likely to result in the Death of Plastic Cards.  The recent Starbucks / Square deal demonstrated that payments can be made simpler with the use of mobile, without the fraud issues currently plaguing mag-stripe cards in particular.  Brett stated that customers will flock to adopt the new payment technology to “a much simpler, better informed payments interaction, plastic just looks dumb, insecure and outmoded.”

I agree with Brett in that disruption in payments is not going to come from the incumbents (Amex, Visa and MasterCard), but from new players like Square, PayPal and Apple – its already started and will lead to fundamental changes in the Payment Card industry, eventually leading to the “Death of Plastic”.

Generally the comments on the article agreed that Mobile Payments will be disruptive leading to significant changes for both Cards and Cash usage for payments.  Some key points that were also brought out included:

  • Apple launching the new iPhone 5 with NFC will drive a lot of the adoption of NFC based mobile payments (see my earlier post on this topic here).
  • Merchants will be the primary benefactors of the death of plastic with lower processing costs / merchant fees as new players come into the market with better value propositions (as per the Square / Starbucks deal).
  • More convenience for the consumer including the  bundling of coupons, offers, loyalty cards, receipts, etc automatically into the payment transaction and generating all the appropriate discounts.



Despite speculation Apple’s iPhone 5 will come with NFC Digital Wallet

Recently the speculation about the inclusion of Near Field Communications (NFC) in Apple’s iPhone 5 switched from “Yes it is definitely In” to “No it’s definitely Out“.  I believe there is a strong case to support Apple including NFC in the iPhone 5 based on Apple doing things a little differently.

The original speculation was driven by a photograph of a partly assembled iPhone 5 front panel with what looked very much like an NFC chip installed (see picture).  

Later, further analysis of the photographs and the iPhone 5 construction came out with the view that NFC could not be included because the metal back of the new iPhone wouldn’t allow enough room for the NFC antenna and because of power consumption concerns in conjunction with the new LTE 4G comms technology that will be in the phone.  See article here.

However, this is Apple so “Think Different“.  Apple was granted a patent in April 2011, which covers the addition of an NFC antenna to the front touch screen sensor panel, eliminating the need for a separate space consuming RFID antenna.

With the inclusion of Passbook in iOS 6, Apple has implemented the infrastructure for an iWallet (as well as loyalty, coupons, tickets).  Along with this, some 250 Million iTunes accounts all with Credit Card payment information, give Apple the ability to be a game changer yet again, this time in Payments.   All that is missing is NFC, to actually transmit the payment information at Point of Sale – it has to be there.

With the recent acquisition of AuthenTec finger print security technology, Apple also has the ability to add additional bio-metric finger print scanning security to iPhone payments. This will address a lot of the security concerns with mobile payments and further smooth the way for the introduction of mobile payments and a great customer experience.

Meanwhile, Visa, MasterCard and major retailers have been quietly rolling out Contactless payment terminals at Point of Sale globally (over 150,000 in Australia alone) putting the retail infrastructure in place for NFC payments to take off.  Watch this space.

All this, even without the recent moves that the competition (Google Wallet, ISIS, Square, PayPal) are making in mobile payments, means that Apple must move now or risk loosing the advantage in what will be a huge market.  Hence, NFC must be there in the iPhone 5.