There were gasps of glee and a standing ovation in Cupertino when the Apple Watch was announced by Tim Cook. At last, the long rumored wearable device was announced to an adoring crowd eager for something interesting and worthy of a tech geeks expectations.
Apple Watch appears to be a better product than other smart watch offerings. Apple should be applauded for their efforts. But the watch was not the game changer announcement that really mattered this week. The new iPhone, which is sure to be a massive hit, was also not the most important announcement.
The big announcement was Apple Pay and the breath of adoption by business partners. With Visa, MasterCard, and American Express signed up, Apple has captured the three major credit card networks for this new payment system. Other vendors such as McDonald's, Starbucks, and other poplar retailers are also on board which means Apple Pay will be an obvious payment choice on a consistent basis.
What makes Apple Pay such a huge deal for Apple is the sheer number of transactions that occur on a daily basis and the margins that Apple will make inserting itself into these transactions. There's minimal product costs to roll this offering out and you can expect to see significant increases in profitable streams of revenue headed towards Apple's way if the system is adopted by consumers.
I don't think that eBay's PayPal or Square pose a threat to Apple Pay. They don't operate with the benefit of a device that is readily available for most consumers. PayPal is a great way to pay for eBay transactions but it's just like any other payment system when you throw it out into the real world. And that's why you are seeing negative comments/downgrades on eBay from a number of analysts following the Apple Pay annoucnement.
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New technology adoption rates are always critical and the skeptics will understandably ask if a nontraditional method of paying for goods will be adopted anytime soon. It's reasonable to assume that it's going to take a significant period of time for a transition to occur. It took quite a while for checks to disappear and debit cards to capture a bulk of cash transactions. But just because something takes time doesn't mean it won't eventually be adopted.
Security is always a concern but the fingerprint identification built into iPhones solves that issue. It will take consumers a while to believe that a phone can be a secure method of paying for product, but I believe that will occur over time. In fact, Samsung recently added fingerprint-identification technology to their phones as well and I expect this to be a standard feature that most manufacturers will adopt to try to participate in payment system technology utilizing cell phones.
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Apple Pay is a game changer for Apple but not very exciting to tech fans. It's not a new tech device that first adopters can play with or hack. But while payments might not be exciting, the scale and profitability of payments is huge. And as a shareholder, investors should mostly be concerned about revenue and profit and not necessarily exciting toys. Apple has delivered up in vision to change how payments work for consumers and I believe this will be a major driver of revenue in the future.
Commentary by Michael A. Yoshikami, the CEO and founder of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California. He is also a CNBC contributor.
Disclaimer: Michael Yoshikami has no personal ownership of Apple but Destination Wealth Management owns Apple for client accounts.