Jean-Louis Gassée weighs in on the potential for Apple to introduce an iPhone 6 with some form of payment system tomorrow. At the heart of his essay is this:
Apple doesn’t want to displace the key players — the banks and credit card companies — any more now than they did a decade ago. Credit card companies, for example, play a hard-to-replace role in policing transactions. It’s not always pretty or convenient when one has to call a US number from Europe because the system “tripped” over an unusual transaction, but it works.
One can’t imagine Apple even thinking of storing and lending money, of trying to “capture a fraction of the flow”. If the company does introduce a near field payment system, it won’t be as an attempt to make money in itself, it will simply be another extension of the Apple ecosystem, another way to make iDevices more attractive.
The question at large: If Apple does introduce the ability to use a near field communication enabled iPhone 6 as part of a larger payment system, will a transaction fee be part of the model, or will the added value to the ecosystem be enough?
In other words, does Apple have to make money on each transaction, or is the selling point (and ecosystem lock-in) of the convenience of using your iPhone to pay at the checkout enough of a win?