Whether Apple Passbook is getting typecast as a Coupon Aggregator?

iOS Passbook adaptation is gaining momentum. But its getting praise or criticism for a feature that’s one of its potential. During this process, the app is getting typecast as a Coupon Aggregator only platform.

The Passbook compatible coupon generator companies are diluting the real potential of Passbook. In their opinion, it’s just a coupon aggregator. They are right from their view-point, as who cannot ignore the revenues from coupon business. That’s just one angle to Passbook potential.  In this area,  a better way of servicing users should be pushing coupons tailored on Customer Shopping habits and Preference.

Customers should have the flexibility to subscribe to his areas of interest for which he would like to have coupons pushed.

People seems to be ignoring the possibility of multi use  Pre paid cash cards and gift cards which can be re deemed at outlets. Starbucks cards are an existing version of the same. The balance on the cards are updatable from a centralized application server. So, if that possibility exists why can’t cash cards or gift cards?

Banks could really look at this possibility – where a user uses a bank app or website, generate a Pre populated gift card or cash card which can be forwarded to a friend for use. ATM-s  can be tailored to accept this  cards for cash with-drawal – a wild imagination, but definitely possible as the Passbook doesn’t need a fancy NFC, just a bar code reader.

Passbook in no way replaces the existing Payment Gateway solutions from Credit Card Companies and it should never try to. These companies have built up on this solution and it has taken monstrous man years to achieve the level of integration and security. Apple cannot put a solution and infrastructure to match that in short time.

What really excites me is , this Passbook ecosystem is so easy for an establishment to join. Doesn’t need any additional infrastructure like NFC or anything and that’s what it differentiates it self from other solutions available now.

Do you agree or Disagree?  Post your comments.

Also Visit more articles written on Passbook


Infographic – iOS Passbook in a nut shell

Types of Passbook Coupons

Store Cards

iOS Passbook Store Cards

iOS Passbook Store Cards

Generic Cards

iOS Passbook Generic Cards

iOS Passbook Generic Cards

Event Coupons

iOS Passbook Event Coupons

iOS Passbook Event Coupons

Store Coupons

iOS Passbook - Coupons

iOS Passbook – Coupons

Boarding Passes

iOS Passbook - Boarding Passes

iOS Passbook – Boarding Passes

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Conveniences of iOS Passbook

Passbook for Developers(https://developer.apple.com)

Evolving Ecosystem around Apple Passbook


Passbook (Photo credit: Domenic K.)

Its quiet interesting to see the evolving support around Apple’s Passbook app. I gave a hint about the future of Passbook in my earlier post.
By this time a handful of implementation utilizing Passbook have been announced.  Any solutions like Pre-Paid Cards on Passbook, in my view doesn’t utilize the right potential of Passbook.
What strikes me most is the approach taken by Apple to give a solution without utilizing new Hardware like NFC.
Disadvantages of NFC based mobile payment solutions.
NFC at first looks very innovative. But building any solution around this needs lot of new additions to user and the vendor.
  • Needs NFC Supported handsets
  • Needs specialized terminals at vendor-side to support NFC based payments
  • Vendors needs to integrate these terminals to their existing billing software
  • Tied down to one or two providers – Google Wallet and upcoming ISIS

Points captured under bullets 2 and 3   needs additional investment on the Vendor side.

No business will go for something new until they see some break-even in the investment they are making.

Since, plastic cards are so popular even with an average customer then why should they need to support a mere percentage of the population with NFC payments.
Advantages of Passbook based mobile Payment solutions

Passbook addresses the top Disadvantages of NFC based solutions

  • No additional hardware feature required on users Handset
  • No Specialized terminals needed at Vendor side
  • Utilizes bar code which is already supported  at  Vendors.
  • Passbook provides an ecosystem for any body to come in

See Also : iOS Passbook Simplified

Disadvantages of Passbook

  • It’s basically the current platform its available – Only iOS and that too on newly released iPhone 5 and older 4S.
  • Scanning of Bar codes in Passbook cards seems to be problematic for existing readers

The last one captured in the Advantages of Passbook is the most prominent one.

It’s easy for anybody to join the Passbook ecosystem unlike Google Wallet and ISIS.

The implementor just needs to ensure that he generates and supports Passbook compliant cards, which doesn’t seems to be a big deal.

The solutions so far provided in Passbook are either Boarding Passes, Admittance Cards, Pre-Paid Coupons. But we could see some innovative ideas coming up in future, As iOS always remains as a preferred platform for Developers compared to others.

To address the Disadvantages of Passbook
  • Apple could gain more acceptance by releasing Passbook to other platforms like Android, Windows Phones etc. Google has already taken this approach by providing support for iOS on their upcoming Google Wallet Version.
  • We could build a iOS based bar code reader. We already have Apps to do so in all platforms.

The first one is less likely, as core thinking at Apple is to Sell their hardware based on the exclusive software / app they provide on their hardware.

For taking Passbook forward

  • Deploying Passbook app in platforms other than iOS
  • Building a Two way interaction between Passbook and POS Terminals.

The current interaction between passbook and POS terminal is One way which is similar to existing payment solutions – Re-Deem Coupons, Credit / Debit Cards. As this is a Software based solution , we could build two-way interactions.  One use could be to Pre-Generate a card and  during each interaction, the Vendor charges the card and the Passbook card’s balance is reduced by the amount charged. This could in one way reduce the creation of a card for each purchase.

Also Major banks should come forward in generating Passbook supported Cards. The advantage for Banks would be no need to manage the making of Plastic Cards. If we could manage a Two way interaction then we could eliminate multiple Instances of any misuse. As Once a  Pre-defined limit based Card is generated then the charging happens between the Passbook Card and Vendor.

It will be exciting to watch how this App could change the way we  make mobile payments in future.


Real world application of iOS Passbook App

Real Word application of iOS Passbook App

Why no NFC in iPhone 5 ?

You might have seen this concern on numerous posts after the official launch of iPhone 5.

When we look at the bigger picture it’s “Passbook” that fits in perfectly. NFC is just ONE of the enablers for it. May be until Apple has an ecosystem like iTunes for mobile payments NFC will not come to Apple Mobile Devices.

What could be reason why Apple deferred this promising feature from their much awaited iPhone 5?
NFC is promising but how mature is it? Known adoption of this feature is very limited other that a few commercial outlets introducing their own application – like Starbucks.

Apple is famous for building ecosystems around their products. And I feel something similar is going to happen around this feature also. Take the case of the iTunes store. iPods could have ended up like any other music player. But it sustained and continued to sell because of the ecosystem. Regular updates to this product line happens only because the ecosystem which it is part of generates revenue when users purchase content. Upgrading existing headphones bundled with iPods & iPhones to Earpods, also, I feel is tied around this business pitch. So any product or feature build to a Product line continues to receive updates as long as it is tied to an ecosystem which justifies the upgrade.
So coming back to NFC. Apple will wait until it matures or until they invent an ecosystem which is linked to cash flow. They are already gearing up for this. The Passbook app could be the first step. This app has already started receiving support from consumer centric companies. While this app continues to rack up support from more, Apple will be parallelly developing an ecosystem. Once this ecosystem is ready, you will find NFC on Apple Devices and Passbook app with added support to NFC also. At that moment their non-NFC mobile models which support Passbook can still utilize this ecosystem as well as the new models with NFC.
So the decision to delay the addition of NFC could be
  • To avoid burdening the user with an increase in price or decrease in Apple’s margin by introduction of a feature that is not of much use.
  • NFC doesn’t justify until a cash generating ecosystem is in place.
We have seen in this industry, where companies overwhelm users by introducing new features which are hardly used or find any application in our day-to-day life. So let Apple or its competitors create something innovative which can see wide range application of at least one new tech that our phones boost off.