At Apple’s iPad event this week, CEO Tim Cook spent a chunk of the presentation talking about Apple Pay, its new mobile payments system that officially launches on Monday, October 20. Cook gushed about Apple Pay’s partners — most major banks — and the more than 220,000 stores which will accept the service. The effect of Apple Pay, he said, will be “profound.”
Google, which introduced its own NFC-enabled payments system through Google Wallet way back in 2011, was much less blustery on its recent earnings call when asked about Google Wallet.
“We are trying to get it right,” Google’s sales boss Omid Kordestani said in response to one analyst’s question about Google Wallet.
Since launch, the service hasn’t really taken off. However, with Apple Pay’s hyped-up rollout right around the corner, Google Wallet will likely also see an uptick in usage as more stores install the NFC-enabled terminals needed to accept either “tap-to-pay” mobile wallet.
Kordestani insinuated as much on the call when an analyst asked him about Wallet’s user adoption so far:
“I think our goal here is really achieving mass merchant adoption, so the availability of these NFC devices is about that,” he says, “And also making it easier for consumers to replace their wallets with their smartphones, hopefully more and more over time. So, reducing friction in everyday shopping experiences is how we approach [Wallet] and the focus on the user. We’re really developing a fully functional payment system.”
Kordestani also highlighted a few of Wallet’s other applications, besides in-store usage, like letting users send money to each other through Gmail or the “Buy With Google,” button that the company makes available for apps and websites.
Apple will use payments startup Stripe to power the apps that want to integrate Apple Pay into their check-outs, and one analyst asked Kordestani whether Google would consider using a third-party for Android.
“I think we’re going to continue to be open here,” he responded. “So we are trying to get it right and innovating on multiple fronts, as I mentioned earlier. And if partnering makes sense, we’ll take a look at it, as well.”
One notable difference between how Apple Pay and Google Wallet work is that Apple won’t have any access to what users bought or how much they paid. Google, on the other hand, “sees” every transaction that a user makes.
Whether Apple Pay be able to succeed better than Google Wallet, or whether, despite Cook’s enthusiasm, it won’t be able to crack the mobile payments code either remains to be seen, but we’re sure to see the payments buzz only increase over the next few months.