A flash history of Apple's digital payment innovations: 1995-2019
As Apple’s increased focus on fintech provides a prediction that payments feature in today's keynote, we look at the evolution of Apple's fintech.
Mid 90s: payments via the Macintosh
Though Apple launched its first product, the Macintosh, in 1985, it wasn’t until the mid-nineties that epayments materialised, notably with the sale of Amazon’s first book and the launch of online shopping platform, eBay, in 1995. The Macintosh was the basis for the subsequent iBook, iMac, Macbook, Macbook Pro, ect.
1997: Apple launches first online computer store
A far cry from the sharp visuals we expect from the website today. The interface was designed to promote the sale of the made-to-order product, with half a dozen pixelated icons of its products, as well as a black and white image of a young girl, “The Apple Store” was centralised across half of the page.
2003: Official launch of the online music store iTunes
Though in the works two years prior, the official launch of the iTunes store on 28 April 2003 marks a true cornerstone of online payments, as users could now digitally download over 200,000 songs. Today the store holds an incomprehensible 43 million songs, as well as tracks exclusive to iTunes.
2007: ‘The Beat Goes On…’ Access to iTunes via three new products
(iPhone released that year: Original iPhone)
With the launch of the first iPhone, Apple TV and the second generation iPod touch, Apple’s touch screen products now had the added capability to make payments through the devices to its official stores.
2008: Launch of the App Store
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 3G)
A new way to pay. This was considered groundbreaking in 2008 as users could now make payments through a sleek, customer-friendly interface.
2010: Introduction of the iPad
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 4)
Access to internet, app store and iTunes enables payments from this 9.7-inch multi-touch screen.
2011: Virtual assistant Siri and the creation of the iCloud
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 4S)
Siri introduced a new dimension of technology to the company with voice recognition. Available across all iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Macintosh, Apple TV, and eventually Apple Watch and HomePod products; Siri can be utilised to make payments through-iOS integrated functions. The introduction of the iCloud in the same year has assisted in backing up iOS functions.
2014: Announcement of Apple Pay and Apple Watch
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus.)Apple Watch is the first wearable piece of Apple technology and contains similar iOS technology to the iPhone 6. The watch pairs with Apple Pay, launched in the same year, allowing users to pay from their wrists instead of fishing in their bag for their wallet. The payment card also functions as a wallet, replaces the classic chip-and-pin model and conducts transactions through contactless pay points. The launch of this product is in keeping with the trend of cashless consumerism.
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- Read the latest issue of FinTech Magazine, here
2015: Launch of subscription service Apple Music
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 6s, 6s Plus.)
Unlike the microtransactions that would take place over iTunes, users can subscribe to the music on iTunes in a similar way to that of Spotify. By 2016, the subscription had expanded to include video, but the service had still remained secondary to its competitor, Spotify. Following a redesign for iOs10, the number of subscribers has sky-rocketed to 60mn subscribers as of June 2019.
2018: Release of the smart speaker HomePod
(iPhone released this year: iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max)
Following delay, Apple’s smart speaker, HomePod was released to the public. Compatible with the major iOS, it is complementary to Siri, allowing a user to make payments without the use of their hands.
2019 - Introduction of the Apple Card
(iPhone released this year: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro.)
Though it wasn't mentioned in the September special event this year, the Apple Credit card was launched to all US customers last month. You can find out more about the top features of the card here.
Did you know?
Apple has been working on an electric car named ‘Titan’ since 2014, which is projected to be launched in 2020.
FIVE things fintechs must do to keep investors onboard
New investors flocked to the stock market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-eight percent of investors said they had never had a brokerage or similar account before opening one in 2020.
Low or no-fee trading options have helped accelerate the trend – nearly half of new investors said they accessed their account primarily through a mobile app. As FinTechs, how do we create the trust needed to keep new investors in the market and create a fruitful customer experience for them?
The financial industry does a disservice to individual investors if we merely offer tools that focus on making money quickly, an approach that usually backfires. Instead, the surge of interest presents an enormous opportunity for those who want to help more consumers use financial technology to educate them on responsible spending, saving, and investing in order to achieve financial wellness current fintech tools have welcomed individual investors in the door.
Now, it’s time to focus on education and improving their experience going forward. There are several ways those of us in fintech can step up to shape the future of retail investing so that it works better for everyone, starting with the following areas.
Equal access to financial wellness education
Financial health should be available to everyone — but today, not everyone has the educational resources to achieve it. One study shows that only 3.9% of students from low-income schools were required to take a personal finance class. What they aren’t learning in school or from family members, fintech companies can provide on their platforms.
The companies should move from solely offering financial services to a more responsible model of education, advice, and prescriptive choices to help consumers develop better habits and make wiser financial decisions. Not only can they empower consumers and bridge historical wealth divides, but they can also stimulate growth by opening up new consumer segments.
Just as we’ve come to expect that our fitness routines are tailored to our individual bodies, we’re also ready for finance tools that go beyond one-size-fits-all solutions. But only six percent of financial institutions say they’re using the kind of technology that allows them to deliver a deeply personalized experience. Fintech tools need to reflect that financial success looks different for each of us.
For one consumer, it may mean providing guidance on how to pay off student loans early; for another, it may mean prescriptive actions that enable them to stick to a budget for the first time; for a third, it could look like prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments, so that her portfolio aligns with her political beliefs.
Now, we are seeing financial technology beginning to meet the demands of personalized finance in a substantial and meaningful way.
The rise of AI-Powered Advice
Big-picture advice and predictive guidance used to be a feature of high-end financial advisory firms — a perk only available to those who could afford it. But thanks to rapid advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), that kind of holistic advice is now more accessible than ever. AI-driven robo-advisors can parse many different streams of financial information, delivering customized answers to key questions: Is it time to buy a home, or is it smarter to keep renting? Can I afford to take out another student loan?
Intelligent connectivity powered by AI can anticipate consumers’ needs and next steps, making proactive suggestions that guide them along the path to financial wellbeing. Fintech companies can also help consumers identify when their financial picture becomes too complex for a robo-advisor, and help them find a human financial advisor to meet their needs.
Focus on financial mental health
New investors are quickly finding that the market can be overwhelming. That’s not surprising, financial anxiety is common and studies show that financial stress can have an impact on mental health for some.
It’s not enough for fintech companies to give retail investors access; they also must provide the guidance and support that help consumers manage their financial well-being. Educational tools can ensure that consumers are well informed about their options.
Predictive analytics can anticipate consumers’ questions, serving them key information and insights before they ask. Features that emphasize a comprehensive notion of financial well-being, rather than short-term wins and losses, can also help ensure that consumers are keeping their eyes on the bigger picture.
Gamification for good
The surge of gamification apps has done an impressive job making investing as engaging as playing a video game or joining a social media platform.
Much of the current use of gamification emphasizes short-term thinking, but there’s also an opportunity to help consumers think more broadly about their overall financial picture. One example is peer benchmarking, a feature that enables help consumers to see how their financial habits compare to those of friends and fellow consumers.
Gamification can also be used to incentivize making smaller, smarter choices — for example, rewarding saving over making an impulse buy.
The future of fintech is about more than just broadening access to the markets. It’s about making sure more individuals have access to the tools that can help improve their financial well-being—in the ways that suit their own circumstances and needs. The potential to act within their own set of individual priorities, with their long-term financial wellness in mind is much more empowering to a consumer than simply relying on short-term, high-risk investments.