Apple faces local battles as it prepares global payments push
By Eric Auchard
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) has made mobile payments look easy, after a decade of mostly failed experiments by banks, telecom operators and retailers to woo consumers away from cards and cash.
Apple Pay has taken the United States by storm since its launch in September, and the company has said it already accounts for around $2 out of every $3 spent using "contactless" payments on the three big U.S. card networks.
But the tech giant will need a whole lot more magic as it looks to extend the service to international markets.
Unlike the consumer electronics business where Apple regularly rolls out new computers or phones in dozens of countries at once, there is no such thing as a unified payments market.
Each country is inhabited by often warring banks, credit card associations, telecom operators and retailers, while payment preferences and regulatory regimes can vary widely.
"Every market will have different local players, different partnerships, different local standards, different economics, different levels of cooperation," said Morgan Stanley technology analyst Andrew Humphrey.
Apple Pay allows consumers using new Apple phones, tablets and smartwatches to buy goods by simply holding the device up to readers installed by store merchants. Its potential global customer base is huge: the 800 million Apple users who have already connected credit and debit cards to iTunes accounts.
But industry executives and analysts say that as the Silicon Valley firm gears up to push into a handful of new markets in the Americas, Asia and Europe this year, it must step gingerly, one market at a time. Continued...