Apple, iPhones and the Mobile Payments Market Shake-up


On a day when iPhones everywhere officially became out-of-date and the world got its first long look at the Apple Watch, my mind is on mobile payments. That’s because Apple is including technology in its devices that will allow people to use them to make purchases electronically.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen how Apple drives major changes in user behavior across the globe – from social media consumption to video chatting. Now Apple is betting big on mobile payments, and we can be fairly certain that this will accelerate mass market adoption of mobile payments across all major categories of mobile devices – not just for Apple products. Mobile payments will be top of mind for players across the mobile ecosystem, and I am excited to talk to industry leaders about how much easier Equinix can make life for the companies enabling mobile payments – though they may not even know it.

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch today included the announcement that both devices will be equipped with short-range wireless technology that enables their use in digital payments. The near-field communication technology works by transmitting a radio signal between the device and a receiver when they’re in close proximity – so-called “tap-to-pay.” That would allow users to pay for things with credit cards stored on iTunes.

It’s all proceeding as Gartner (and others) have foreseen. Gartner predicted a 35% compound annual growth rate in global mobile transaction volume and value through 2017. Visa says that by 2020, half of its transactions will be made on mobile devices. The convenience promised by the expansion of the mobile payments universe is awesome for the consumer, but it’s also an incredibly complex undertaking for companies in the mobile payments industry. Equinix simplifies it with a basic concept – direct connections.

Consider for a moment the security needed for a single mobile purchase. Companies need to make sure the person using your device is actually you, and they do it through multi-factor authentication. This involves confirming several independent things about the buyer at the same time, maybe a password, physical proximity to a stored address and a fingerprint. That’s not to mention the different connections between banks, payment processors, mobile operators, etc., needed to execute the purchase.

It’s a ton of data per user, involving increasingly complex calculations and a patchwork quilt of software and services per purchase. Much of the needed computer processing is being done in the cloud, and it’s often being sent all over the world via the Internet. But it doesn’t have to be. Equinix has 100 data centers on five continents, and more than 4,500 companies deploy their IT with us – including key players in mobile payments.

Through a simple cross connect within an Equinix data center, you can establish a direct, secure link to the partners you need. It’s the difference between being a few feet away from your partners and being separated by miles of cable on the public Internet, with its security and performance concerns. Equinix also offers Equinix Cloud Exchange, which also bypasses the public Internet to connect you directly and simultaneously with multiple cloud providers.

The mobile payments industry has always gone from point A to point B in the shortest, most efficient way possible. The shortest, most efficient way possible doesn’t always mean the Internet any more. Mobile companies should talk to Equinix about connecting to their partners in our data centers. We already host 130,000 cross connects, and there’s plenty of room for more. Maybe take a minute to call or email while you’re waiting in line for that new iPhone.