The upcoming iOS 15 update brings new features to Apple’s Wallet app, making users’ more reliant on its devices and ecosystem and should set the standard for rivals.

During the nascent years of mobile commerce (2010-2012) several wireless players offered some form of a mobile wallet app or service to users. Mobile wallets presented an opportunity to expose users to the touted convenience of mobile payments and commerce by storing credit cards and transit passes in a single app. A mobile wallet did not require users to adapt to new technology or inculcate a new mobile-related behaviour, which could have impeded traction.  However, limited use case scenarios, slow supporting technology rollouts and poor customer education forced many upstarts to stall or discontinue their service.

However, Apple Wallet, despite its late entry into the mobile wallet scene (launched as Apple Passbook in late 2012), has performed well due to its tight integration with Apple’s ecosystem and steady, innovative enhancements. Wallet is now an integral cog in Apple’s wheel of services and upcoming feature updates will only strengthen its appeal. In fall 2021, Apple’s Wallet app will support many home and office keys and cards, government ID cards, driver’s licenses (only in the US), corporate ID cards, theme park passes and hotel keys inching closer to the goal of fully replacing a physical wallet. Apple is also working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accept digital driver’s licences/IDs at US airports.

Apple’s announcement features several new use cases that moves beyond credit and transit card aggregation. This is bound to create a stir in the US mobile payments market, which has not been very innovative in showcasing its services as it gives the players new industry benchmarks. Wallet’s main competitor Google Pay has made consistent but low-key improvements to its app since its inception, adding useful capabilities like sending a message or note along with a peer-to-peer payment, and an Explore option within the Google Pay app, which allows users to save money by purchasing products from participating retailers and earn cashback. But the digital payment solution has also gone through several revisions: the company no longer allows users to pay peers via its online platform, which is now defunct – the peer-to-peer payment function is available on the mobile app, indicating an evolving strategy aimed at creating a universal service more palatable to upcoming global markets. For its part, Samsung Pay has not expanded beyond the initial use cases of aggregating credit cards and transit passes in one app.

Except for Apple Wallet, the mobile wallet space in the US appears to be languishing and moving forward at a very slow pace. To that extent, Apple’s Wallet’s initiatives are not only expanding the applicability of mobile wallets, but they are also setting standards that existing and new entrants should aim to attain if they wish to remain competitive.

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