Mobile payments is one of those tech industry boondoggles nobody is quite willing to admit is a boondoggle. There’s just no real benefit to the consumer, and nobody accepts these mobile payment methods anyway. But Apple, it seems, is committed to getting Apple Pay to actually work, so much so that they’ve signed on with Square.
It’s pretty simple: If you’re not familiar with Square, you sign up, you get a little credit card reader that slots into your phone, and you get an app. Square takes a percentage, and everybody, especially people who don’t want to buy into the bloated credit card infrastructure, is happy. Apple just announced that, essentially, they’ve hired Square to build Apple Pay readers.
This is a pretty big deal in the sense that it means you might now actually use Apple Pay. One of the issues with mobile payments has always been that merchants are slow to buy into a system that has no benefit whatsoever to them, but Square is something most people deal with and can get behind.
That said, I’m not sure how far this will carry Apple Pay. Fundamentally, there’s still the issue of “What problem does this actually solve?” It’s been pitched as a time-saver, but that angle doesn’t really click. Sure, if you go jogging and want to leave your wallet behind, and happen to own an iPhone, it’s handy. But how many people are going to use it on a regular basis? That’s apparently a question we’re about to see answered.