The incredibly brilliant way people are now paying for things in Asia
When Apple first rolled out Apple Pay in 2014, it was billed as a simpler way to buy goods and services. You take your phone out, tap it to the credit card reader, and off you go. Seems convenient, right?
But some consumers in Asia think there’s an even better way to pay.
In recent years, millions of people have grown accustomed to using messaging apps to communicate. Some of these apps now support person-to-person digital cash transfers. So the next step is pretty logical: Asian retailers have begun using these same messaging platforms to sell everything from clothing to hamburgers to train tickets. And as a consumer, you never have to leave the app to pay.
On the surface, this alternative sounds a lot like Apple Pay (or Samsung Pay, or Android Pay, etc.). But conducting real-life and online transactions through messaging apps stands to change retail like none these other services have. What we’re seeing in Asia is the rise of mobile payments that run primarily on software, not hardware as we’ve tried to implement it here in the United States. And that simple distinction may be the key to everything from accelerating the spread of mobile payments to unlocking deep, digital interactions with customers in brick-and-mortar stores to democratizing e-commerce away from giant online businesses like Amazon.