During Apple’s Keynote on Wednesday, they announced the latest iteration of the iPhone. There were several improvements highlighted during the keynote including better performance, longer battery life, new camera systems that begin to border on DSLR quality, improved sound through the introduction of new stereo speakers and at last the iPhone is water and dust resistant making the new device better prepared for everyday life. While the updates to the iPhone certainly advance the device forward, the overwhelming comment I have heard and read about this phone is what has been removed…the audio jack.
I’m a big fan of the audio jack as it allows me to plug-in my favorite headphones to listen to all my favorite music. Plus, in my experience, the wired sound is just better than wireless sound. As I was contemplating how the removal of this port was going to impact my life, I started to wonder what the broader impacts to this audio jack exclusion might be and then it occurred to me that this will impact the merchant shopper experience. How, you wonder? Payment dongles!
There are several companies who have launched their payment dongle that plugs into the audio jack in the device to allow a swipe of a credit card. The swipe of the card will interact with the mobile device it’s attached to securely capture the card data to send along for processing. So my question is, what happens when these merchants want to upgrade to the latest iPhones but they can’t plug in their dongle to the phone?
We witnessed a similar problem recently when EMV became more prevalent in the US. These hardware companies began introducing additional devices that will sit on a counter top to provide a means for chip card transactions. It seems these companies keep introducing new hardware to process card transactions leaving the merchants with several devices all intended to allow merchants to process card transactions for their shoppers.
It’s odd that Apple is trying to remove clutter from our lives while these payments hardware companies keep adding new devices.
The future of payments
So is the new wave of innovative technology going to be lightning ports? Or Bluetooth tech? Or something even bigger? What is the latest from Apple going to force payment hardware companies to do? Is the point of sale credit card swipe nearing its end?
Apple’s innovation is forcing all of us to think about how we can innovate and payment hardware companies need to think…what is the next wave of payment technology that is on the horizon? Hopefully we don’t have to wait for next September to find out.
There are two important things hardware companies need to keep in mind as they forge the next generation of payment technology: convenience and security. Typing in credit card information can be a real pain, could you imagine having to do that everytime you went out to dinner? Data and privacy are more important than ever and the new wave must be sure to continue protecting users rights.
One thing is for sure, the relationship between payment processors and hardware companies is about to get a whole lot more connected.