Big Three: “We’re Going to Beat Apple Pay”

Condescending Wonka

Ah yes, mobile payment systems in Canada… One of those not-so-subtle reminders that Canadians are living in a digital backwater, controlled by an oligopoly whose only interest is serving themselves.

Witness this latest development, just published in The Globe and Mail, detailing how Bell and TELUS have turned their backs on the tap-and-pay system from Apple and have thrown their support behind Rogers’ suretap instead.

CIBC, currently the only bank that supports suretap, is playing this low-key, saying it only wants to give wireless users in this country another option when it comes to mobile payments. But a spokes-shill from suretap is singing a different tune:

“We are certainly going to beat Apple.”

Yes, they actually said that.

Because a payment system that works at the OS level and supports any bank, carrier and SIM card is somehow inferior to suretap’s single supported bank and proprietary SIM? That’s insane. I’m an Android user and I’ve no problem with Apple Pay—it’s a platform-specific equivalent to Google Wallet, that’s all. Soon to be re-branded as Android Pay, the Google version already works great for tap-and-pay with a U.S. credit card, but (big surprise) not at all for Canadians.

What could possibly make banks and carriers in this country so afraid of tap-and-pay solutions from Android and Apple? Simple economics, I suspect—they likely don’t want to miss out on the lucrative business of tracking their customers’ purchases through a brand-new channel.

A consortium of retailers in the U.S. tried and failed to provide a credible alternative to Apple Pay. Sadly, the Big Three’s choke-hold on the market might make for a different outcome here in Canada.

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