The much anticipated Apple Card is here…will you squire this venerable new bank card from Apple, chances are you probably will. Apple’s latest fintech entry in the credit card market has now arrived. The Apple Card is a credit card that comes with all kinds of conveniences: No late fees, that’s correct this credit card has zero late fees! No long strings of numbers! No wait to qualify! No card, either, if you’re using it the way Apple intends. This is the money of the future—instant, invisible, and a little bit innovative—and it’s all nested beneath the beautiful glass screen of your iPhone.
Apple has a way of turning our everyday activities into little moments of joy and convenience. The iPod absolutely changed the way the world listened to music and changed the genre in it’s entirety. The App Store and the many choices it contained gave us dates on demand, personal chauffeurs, and endless photo streaming of our companions lives. Apple also hopes to reinvent the magazine business. and thus change the way you stream TV and movies. Apple is now gunning for the last piece of our lives that Silicon Valley hasn’t quite commandeered: your wallet.
The new Apple Credit Card is only the latest example of how our spending is changing, and no longer is it just finance, it is now fintech. Money and technology have been holding hands on the park bench for years, just itching to get closer. Venmo and Square Cash popularized the act of paying our friends with our phones; Apple Pay and Android Pay paved the way for paying with your phone in a store. Amazon de-materialized the shopping mall (and it’s checkout also lines). Apple isn’t even the first tech company to slap its logo onto a credit card: Uber makes one; so does Amazon.
Along the way, it is our expectations around spending that have slowly shifted to a more technological solution.Thus why should we have to find an ATM and pull out cash just to pay our share of last night’s dinner? Your camera is an app, your music is an app, your news is an app. Why shouldn’t your wallet be an app, too, the answer is convenience.
A credit card in Cupertino clothing fosters these expectations even further. “The industry has mainly been competing on price and rewards. This is a virtual card, and the user experience is unique,” says Kalpesh Kapadia, the CEO of Deserve, which makes cards for young people or people without a credit history. “That will force other players in this space to up their game on user experience.”
The advantages here aren’t revolutionary in the sense. Apple gives card-owners 2 percent cash back when they use their iPhone to purchase, or 1 percent cash back when they swipe the physical card, built not from plastic but from titanium. Purchases at Apple stores earn 3 percent cash back. Sure! Fine.
How does this behoove Apple? For one it lets its ever-growing ecosystem of apps, services, and hardware take over even more parts of your life. Want to spend money beautifully and seamlessly? You’re going to need an iPhone.
This technology also prepares the future of spending and what it looks like, in ways both small and big. Consider that a few years ago, the idea of paying for anything with a smartphone would have seemed ridiculous. Now, no one blinks an eye when you tap your screen against a card reader in the check-out line. Oh, you still carry a wallet? How quaint!
The changes can feel like big wins for you and me. Don’t we all want less friction in our financial transactions? And the big tech companies have a tremendous ability to change how retailers take our money. Apple Pay, which was introduced in 2014, is now accepted as a payment method in 74 of the top 100 retailers in the US; Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which offer similar convenience for non-iPhones, have also grown in popularity.
Imagine just how Big Tech could also change the status quo for payment security, by replacing those tired and vulnerable credit card numbers with smarter forms of authentication. Imagine, too, how all of these consumer conveniences might overshadow our suspicions about handing over the finer details of our financial lives to Big Tech. Apple says it won’t snoop on your spending, and that’s nice. But that’s not to say that the next company to issue a credit card—Google, or Facebook—won’t sell your monthly statement to the highest bidder. Data is the new money, but also, money is data.
That’s all to say that what the tech giants do, and how it matters when it comes to money and the way we spend it. And it’s not just Apple. There are wild, weird ideas across the land. Forget paying for stuff with your iPhone—Amazon has experimented with a payments system that uses facial recognition to automatically charge you for whatever you take from a store. Facebook is supposedly creating its own cryptocurrency, one FaceCoin to rule them all. WeChat, the Chinese social media platform, has driven cash to near-extinction in China with WePay, its own mobile payments system. Those shifts aren’t just the latest technological fad. They’re changes that will impact our society for years to come.
Whether it’s racking up points on the Apple Card or just betting on the cryptocurrency du jour, the way we spend is ever changing our lives.