Google wallet and other NFC-based payment services have been around for quite some time. Apple pay is only new if you’ve never tapped a card or phone to a pay terminal. In those rare cases where one can tap-n-pay, it’s often baffling to the cashiers or cabbies accepting the payments. Why is everyone so averse to the absence of a physical swipe—that swoosh across the slot and the subsequent bleep to confirm? NFC, or near field communication, is a technology that can receive and transmit small amounts of data, and it can do so between two devices such as your phone and a payment terminal. There is a gap between availability and adoption, and Apple just might have the fanbase to make that gap smaller.
For over a few years, I have been tapping my Chase Debit card—the one where it has that wifi-looking logo called “blink” on the back—to these vendors that also have a terminal featuring the same logo. Many who have actually used this service in some fashion or another were very displeased when CVS and Rite-Aid disabled NFC payments in the wake of the “new” Apple Pay. It hasn’t been a year, and the contract that kept Rite-Aid bound to disabling all NFC payments has ended. In any case, it has been annoying that after Apple Pay was released that so many vendors have been scrambling to either block or join the NFC party. Hopefully this also means that general NFC payments whether via a smartphone or credit card or other verified NFC-toting device will soon become more standard. Only now, you know that Apple didn’t invent it, but they just might have reinvigorated it!