Will Apple Pay be the “TiVo” of Mobile Payments?

By | October 24, 2014

Is mobile payments the thing you didn’t know you needed until you couldn’t live without it? 

All this talk about Apple Pay launching this week, and whether or not it will be the catalyst we’ve been waiting for to finally drive widespread consumer adoption of mobile payments, got me thinking about TiVo.  TiVo was a service most of us hardly knew about a decade ago, and now we can’t live without our DVR.  Will Apple Pay be the “TiVo” of mobile payments?

I first heard about TiVo and learned what a digital video recorder was in the early 2000’s while taking a brand marketing class.  We used a 2000 Harvard Business Review case study on the company to come up with a marketing plan to build brand awareness and preference for TiVo that would drive consumer demand for their product.  TiVo was struggling with how to market their disruptive technology to a consumer base that didn’t understand the technology, or why they would want to pay for this new product.  Mobile payments has been faced with a similar problem – how do you get consumers to radically change their behavior if they see no compelling reason to do so?

According to a 2014 Federal Reserve report, Consumers and Mobile Financial Services, “The greatest impediment to adoption of either mobile banking or mobile payments appears to be consumers’ limited demand for them: many consumers say their needs are already being met without mobile banking or payments, that they are comfortable with non-mobile options, and that they do not see a clear benefit from using either service.”

Just like DVRs weren’t a new idea before TiVo, mobile payments isn’t new either.  There are lots of payment companies and some are still getting venture capital.  One can find proponents and detractors in equal measure talking about whether mobile payments will finally take off, or is facing a slow death waiting for enough of us to finally see the need for the service.  Then Apple Pay launched.

With stellar brand loyalty and millions of customers already purchasing from iTunes and the App Store, Apple Pay could be the mobile payments service that finally tips the balance for most of us, where we begin to see our mobile device in a whole new light.  The key will be self-discovery rather than having that new light shined in our face as some mobile payments companies have tried to do. Consumers will think of mobile payments through Apple Pay as an extension of their current behavior and won’t see it, necessarily, as a new way of making payments.

Maybe just as TiVo showed us we couldn’t live without a DVR, Apple Pay will show us we can’t live without mobile payments and we’ll look for a consolidated platform to pay any number of billers from our smartphone.  Time will tell.  Tell us what you think.


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