14 Jul 2015

Apple Pay: who profits?

The unholy fight for the future of your wallet just took a giant step forward with the launch of Apple Pay in the UK.

Hand over your fingerprint and credit card details to your iPhone 6, and you can swipe your handset to make purchases up to £20 (unless you’re an HSBC customer: the bank is “working hard” to get it up and running in the next fortnight).

Apple drops into the mobile phone payments melee at an exciting point: Facebook has craftily turned its Messenger app into a money transfer system, PayPal is fighting its corner on in-store bills, and the traditional banks have fought back with services like Barclays’ mobile Pingit system.

Apple Pay Launches In The UK

It’s no surprise that so many companies want to help you pay. To quote Fight Club’s Tyler Durden: “The things you own end up owning you”.

Knowing your purchase history allows companies like Apple (through services like iTunes for example) to build up a profile of your habits. Not only can they use that data to target their own products at you, they can sell it to others to help them target you too.

But the mobile payments industry gives an extra layer of valuable data: location. When I shop online for food at home, I buy virtuous fruit and veg. When I’m out and about, I have a weak spot for pastries and giant packs of liquorice allsorts. Knowing not just what we all buy, but also where, is an incredibly powerful tool for retailers, marketeers and advertisers, especially given the huge scale of the industry.

In terms of how Apple Pay specifically gathers information about its users, here are the relevant T&C’s:
“Apple Pay was designed so that when you pay in stores Apple doesn’t collect any transaction information that can be tied back to you. If you have Location Services turned on, the location of your device and the approximate date and time of the transaction may be sent anonymously to Apple.”

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