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Who will win payment race to build “OS for money”?

In the USA Citi research shows that 55% of shoppers are using digital wallets. But what is a digital wallet? Will Hernandez, the editor of Mobile Payments Today, says that “A digital wallet is essentially an electronic storage space for the plastic payment and loyalty cards in your physical wallet.“ Digital wallets vary working across different devices and channels – including in-app, online, and in–store. But in China they have one of the world’s biggest mobile payment apps, Alipay, which doesn’t link to other payment instruments, so is it an e-wallet? 


Alipay from Ant Financial Services is the most widely used third-party online payment service provider in China. It is a mobile payment APP that has over 100 million daily transactions and 600+ million active users, and now cash is no longer king in many cities. 

Alipay users have a separate account - not linked to a payment card or other account. The transactions are taken from scanning the qr code on the phone.

Alipay is being rolled out worldwide, e.g. Barclaycard has partnered with Alipay to help UK merchants increase sales from Chinese tourists. 

The Apple Card - a credit card with ApplePay wallet

This summer in the USA Apple will introduce a new credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs - The Apple Card - that,  they claim, is a new kind of credit card which “completely rethinks credit cards.” It:

  • Represents all the things Apple stands for. Like simplicity, transparency, and privacy
  • Builds on the ease and security that millions of people love about Apple Pay
  • Is the first card that actually encourages you to pay less interest
  • Works in combination with Apple Pay on the iPhone and looks like this:
    • (Note the lack of card numbers on the card face).

The product

Cardholders can buy with their iPhone and Apple Pay or use the Apple‑designed titanium card anywhere in the world that does not accept Apple Pay. This quite normal, but then the differences appear:

  • Each time you buy something using the Apple Card, you get a percentage of your purchase back immediately in a Daily Cash deposited to your Apple Pay Cash card
  • Apple earns a share of the interchange that the interchange fee that Goldman collects from the merchants which on most rewards cards is 1.8-2.0% 
  • Apple pays no interchange fee when the card is used at Apple stores or special partner merchants.

The Daily Cash offer in the USA will include:

  • 3% back on everything you buy from Apple, whether you buy it at an Apple Store, Apple, the App Store, or iTunes. That includes games, in‑app purchases, and services like your Apple Music subscription and iCloud storage plan.
  • 2% back every time you buy something using Apple Pay. That’s in every category, with no limits.
  • 1% at a store, website, or app that doesn’t take Apple Pay, Apple Card gives 1% of your purchases back in the form of Daily Cash.

Also, Apple has eliminated most charges. There are no annual fees, cash advance fees,  international fees, and over‑the‑limit or returned‑payment fees.


For each purchase cardholders receive instant notification in their Apple Wallet and will be notified of any unusual activity. If you don’t recognize a charge you just tap to let Apple know. If you have a question, you could call or you can use Apple Business Chat integrated into the Apple Card which uses Siri AI to answer simple questions and/or directs the cardholder to a live agent.

Competing new products

An important competitor to the Apple Card is the Curve card which lets users combine their credit and debit cards into one card and a smart app. Since its consumer launch at the start of 2018, it has amassed half a million active users, enjoying 30% month-on-month growth. Over half a billion pounds has gone through the Curve platform to-date.

Curve founder and CEO Shachar Bialick thinks the current proposition lacks the truly innovative features that would make it a major contender. He argues that “The long-anticipated Apple Card signals Apple’s intention to be front of wallet on Apple Pay, competing with other issuers for the first time. But despite the slick looking card, Apple isn’t offering anything truly different to the challenger banks. This is, however, another step towards Curve’s vision of building a platform that moves banking to the cloud – an OS for money. Unlike Curve, Apple is still behind in this process because Apple Pay’s frequency of use is limited by the availability of NFC payments. Apple Card goes some way toward addressing this issue and taking the company closer to joining the new category Curve is building – the OS for money.”

CTMfile take: These payment service providers are coming from very different starting points, but they have a similar objective of providing the whole payment environment. But who will win the battle to create a viable OS of money?

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This item appears in the following sections:
Payments - Receipts
Payments - Disbursements
Card Payments at POS

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