By David Dorf-Oracle on Nov 04, 2014
I've used Softcard (fka Isis) before, and it works just fine. But ApplePay is a much faster experience, taking just two steps instead of four or five. I've not used CurrentC yet since its still in pilot, but I understand its similar to the Starbucks approach, taking at least three steps. But these companies have different goals for their mobile payment platforms, and thus have different experiences.
I believe Softcard's goal is to profit from offers made via their application. Not only do they handle payment, but they also link consumers to coupons and deals from retailers. This helps retailers drive demand, and helps consumers save money. This means the experience must appeal to both retailers and consumers.
ApplePay, on the other hand, does not address coupons and offers. Its experience is streamlined to appeal to consumers, with little regard to the needs of retailers (although "fast" probably appeals to both parties). While the banks are currently covering Apple's fees, those fees may eventually be added to existing card fees that retailers pay. This is why retailers are less excited about ApplePay.
And that's where MCX enters the picture. Members are refusing to accept ApplePay in the hopes that CurrentC will eventually take off. CurrentC's goal is, first and foremost, to minimize card fees. Their second goal is to support the retailer's marketing activities with coupons, offers, and loyalty programs.
Then there are lots of other emerging payment methods popping up everywhere. The latest is MasterCard's trial with the Nymi wristband. I mentioned the ApplePay two-step which is "tap and touch." What if you could drop the second step? This wristband uses heartbeat authentication instead of a fingerprint, so you can simply tap to pay. I guess I'll have to trust the science on that one. If it works, I'm guessing the technology will go into smartwatches.
Of course none of these approaches really changes anything for online purchases, which have been the same payment experience since the start. What concerns me is that as we tighten security in stores, fraud is just going to move online. (Reminds me of treating my yard for fire ants only to have my neighbors complain about the sudden ant problem.) I guess we'll cross that bridge next year.