3 Nov 2014

Kerching! The tech battle for your wallet

The next battleground for the tech giants? Your wallet.

Yes, they hope to consign the grubby leather billfold/purse to the dustbin of history. The US is leading the way and over there it’s a three-way fight: Apple, Google, and a coalition of retailers pushing their own solution.

The latter has already had a setback: CurrentC, which counts Walmart and Best Buy among its supporters, admitted email addresses of would-be users have been stolen; not a great start for a financial project.

Nevertheless, the rush to control new payment systems will go on. Here’s how the three systems shake down:

Google Wallet: uses Near-Field Communication (NFC), which is a tiny chip inside a phone. When waved near a payment terminal it takes payment from a registered credit card.

Apple Pay: also uses NFC, fitted inside the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, but uses a fingerprint to authorise the payment.

CurrentC: uses QR codes, those little square bar code-type images you may have seen dotted around.

The battle between them has already commenced, with some backers of CurrentC refusing to accept Apple and Google’s NFC systems.

There is a lot at stake here: whoever wins gets not only access to a treasure trove of information about your spending habits, but the ability to target ads at you.

And as Sophos sagely point out , CurrentC gives retailers the ability to take payments direct from users’ bank accounts, cutting credit card companies out of the picture – along with their fees.

The e-wallet fight will come to our shores soon, but it needs buy-in from shops (which explains the appeal for them of CurrentC).

As an indication of how long it’s all taking: Google Wallet was initially rumoured to be up and running for the London Olympics in 2012…

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