Disruptive activities in the banking sector

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Apple is better known for its tech consumables – who doesn’t know at least one Apple fanboy or fangirl? – as well as wanting to be on the forefront of technology innovation and market disruption. It is no surprise to anyone when we see Apple moving into other areas of business, such as the controversial Apple Music, hoping to compete with Google Play, Spotify or Tidal in the music streaming business. It makes perfect sense, as they already supply the players, now they’ll also supply even more content (along with old iTunes) and keep up with the times, as most people now prefer to stream rather than buy – something that is also seen with audiovisual media, with Netflix on the leading edge of this market.

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Apple is looking into other ways of generating diverse revenue streams and is launching a new payment service called Apple Pay in the month of July here in the UK. With the rise in smartphone usage for personal banking services, it only makes sense. However, Apple isn’t alone in this race and Barclays has for a long time been one of the main innovation players in this field, being for example, the first UK bank to allow payments over Twitter, among other vanguard services.

Barclays is now competing directly with Apple by launching their own digital wallet and wearables called bPay, which will be prepared for making contactless payments. The bPay Digital wallet is able to sync up to multiple devices including a wristband, a fob, which can be added to keys or a bag, and a sticker that can be added to flat surfaces, such as the back of your phone. Applications for the wristband spiked in September when Transport For London barred cash transactions, enforcing a contactless travel procedure.

bPay items went on sale on 1 July and, priced at £15, £20 and £25 for the sticker, fob and band respectively, the items are significantly cheaper than the Apple Watch, which varies between £300 to £13,500. The Apple watch has a few more functions than just acting as a digital wallet, however, this is being promoted as one of the main new features and it becomes difficult to compete with the Barclays option, at least in terms of price.

With contactless payments climbing up to £2.32bn last year, accounting for 319 million transactions according to the UK Cards Association and growing, whoever gets to innovate and dominate in this market is bound to have better prospects for the future.

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