Can Apple iMessage payments really compete with PayPal?

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There are a rash of relatively new competitors to the digital e-money market competing with PayPal, everyone from Apple Pay, Android Pay, Barclay’s Ping It, Amazon Pay, Square… the list appears almost endless. Of course each new entrant to the market is another competitor for PayPal to worry about, they have one killer advantage and that’s their agnostic platform approach.

Recently Apple announced that they’d be enabling peer to peer payments with the Apple iMessage app via a virtual wallet, which sounds great but it’s not going to set the world on fire. Apple’s big disadvantage is that whilst you might have an iPhone and want to pay someone, they could have an Android, I for instance am in the minority in that I don’t own a single Apple device so don’t try paying me with Apple.

Others may have an Android mobile, a Windows laptop and an Apple iPad – users pick the best device for each use case but in this case they also want a payment method that works across all the platforms they use. Just because they’re shopping online on their iPad doesn’t mean they’ll want to sign up for Apple Pay if they can’t shop the same site on their smart phone or laptop tomorrow.

PayPal have had a head start and it doesn’t matter what device you’re using you’ll be able to log in and pay with PayPal. It’s not just the logging in, it’s the question of how many different payment methods do you want? Even people with multiple credit and debit cards tend to routinely use the same one. You might have one for work and one for personal use, but the chance are high that when you’re out shopping it’s always the same card you drag out of your wallet (unless it’s the end of the month and you’re approaching your overdraft limit).

It’s the same online, no one really wants to tap in their bank card details, name, address, email and telephone every time they pay. That’s the uniqueness of PayPal, it’s one log in on any device and whether you’re sending cash to a friend, buying on eBay or making a purchase on a website.

Interestingly, PayPal’s already support iMessage Payments via a Venmo app, Apple are only just catching up with PayPal on their own platform!

New e-money payment methods will no doubt catch up with PayPal one day but for now (at least in the Western world) PayPal is ubiquitous and all their competitors have a long way to go until they can truly offer universal payments.


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