Quora Question: Why Do People Think Apple Pay Is so Innovative When Android Has Had Something Like it For Over Two Years?

Tony Zhan, 32, holds up his new iPhone 6 Plus after it went on sale at the Apple store in Pasadena, California September 19, 2014. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

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Answer from Andrew Hamada, guarding the customer experience.

I'm probably biased because this is what I do for a living, but I think it's an awareness problem.

Google does a poor job of explaining what Google Wallet is, how it's used, or why it's better. Apple does a much better job with Apple Pay. I'm on Android, so I'm obviously using Google Wallet to pay for my Play store purchases, but let's pretend I'd never heard of Wallet until today and look at the Google Wallet landing page. I'm trying to answer two questions: what is Google Wallet and how does it work?

Google talks about five things that Google Wallet can do.

  • Pay in stores
  • Pay your friends
  • Use your loyalty cards & gift cards
  • Send money to friends
  • Friends can spend money with the Google Wallet card

The volume alone is confusing, but Google doesn't do a good job of explaining how any of these things work in Wallet, or why Wallet is a better solution than what I do today. As a customer, I'll try to make sense of the information overload by comparing to existing products. Based on the screenshot, Wallet looks a lot like Paypal or Venmo.

Now I understand that Google can somehow store all of my gift cards and loyalty cards, but I still don't really understand how this works. How do I load them? How do I use them? Does it only work with Google offers?

Now I think I'm getting somewhere. Google Wallet works by connecting a bank account to my Wallet account, and I swipe the Wallet card at checkout. The Wallet card will pay from my bank account and also use any money in my Wallet balance as well as gift cards and loyalty cards.

Except, well, that's not entirely accurate. I'm also not sure how the Wallet card works. Does it pair with my phone? Will it work if my phone is dead or doesn't get signal?

This section makes Wallet sound like Paypal, except I see the Paypal buy button all the time and can't remember ever seeing a Buy with Google button.

The last explanatory element of the page talks about security. They focus on fraud protection and what happens in the event your phone gets lost or stolen. This sounds good at first, but both of these security benefits are reactive—Google explains nothing about how they're going to protect my information in the first place— and aiming for parity, since this is basically the same security I get with credit cards.

If I click Learn More, I additionally learn that I can control access to Wallet with a PIN, and I get activity notifications.

At the very bottom of the page, with no image, and grayed out for de-emphasis, Google explains that my financial information is encrypted and stored on secure servers.

To summarize: I'm done reading, I'm still not quite sure why I would choose Google Wallet over any of the tools/services I use today. I'm not clear on what the benefits are, largely because Google doesn't explain the value proposition very well. I don't know it, but my understanding is incomplete. For example, Google never mentions credit cards or NFC.

They have this massive identity problem elsewhere, too. My Google search results for "google wallet" are scattered.

The ad at the top of the page emphasizes it's about sending money to a friend.

My first organic result mentions three of the five things Wallet can do, and the rest of the description doesn't add value.

My second organic result is for checkout.google.com and emphasizes using Wallet at online stores.

My third organic result is the first non-Google page. Mashable understands Wallet's value prop to be 'mobile payments' and storing various cards. Definitely scattered.

Let's compare to Apple Pay.

Apple chose to explain Apple Pay by telling a story about paying with cards from my wallet, and why Apple Pay solves that problem. In the first paragraph, Apple reminds me that the way payments work in a physical store is kind of a hassle. (I don't even really think that, but they make me believe it briefly.) Apple Pay is a contactless payment method tied to iPhone 6.

After reading this, I know exactly how Apple Pay works in a store, though I'm still not sure where the money comes from...

...and now I am. I scan my credit & debit cards, Apple Pay stores that data and transmits it to a retailer when I pull out my phone and hold it near the terminal at checkout. At this point, the Apple Pay story feels complete.

  1. It's a pain to manage a bunch of cards.
  2. I scan all my debit and credit cards into my iPhone.
  3. When I'm in a store, I wave my phone near the terminal to pay.
  4. Now I don't need to deal with a bunch of cards anymore.

It's really important that Apple establishes the core story first. Now they can tell me about additional benefits without confusing me, by weaving them into that story—and that's exactly what Apple does.

Crap, there's another problem: security. Apple spells it out plainly, then explains in lay terms how Apple Pay solves the problem.

Now I know Apple Pay has both proactive and reactive security.

Just in case it wasn't already clear, Apple explains again. They want you to understand that Apple Pay is not only secure, it's more secure than regular payment methods.

Here Apple emphasizes that this is not really different than what you already know, it's different enough in ways that matter. Credit card imprints you recognize. Banks you know (and...well, maybe not love).

Then Apple addresses the other side of the equation: Apple Pay works with the cards you know, but it's also ubiquitous. They selected some recognizable brand logos, but also emphasize the 220,000 store number. To the average consumer, that probably sounds like it works everywhere.

And just in case you're still unsure, Apple gives you a concrete way to know: look for an icon. This is important, because this icon already exists in the wild and is likely to be recognized.

Now, the Apple Pay story looks like this:

  1. It's a pain to manage a bunch of cards.
  2. Cards are also not very secure.
  3. I scan all my debit and credit cards into my iPhone.
  4. When I'm in any of 220,000 stores, I wave my phone near the terminal to pay.
  5. The transaction is safe, and fewer people get my data.
  6. Now I don't need to deal with a bunch of cards anymore, I can just carry my phone.

The story is concise and comprehensive—within the narrow area that Apple chose to focus on. What they excluded is just as important as what they included. Notice that Apple doesn't talk about any of the following features:

  • Loyalty & gift cards
  • Sharing card information
  • Concert & airline tickets
  • Barcode & QR scanning

This theme of focus is an obvious reflection of Apple's bias toward simplicity, and you can see it every time they talk about Apple Pay, whether in the announcement broadcast or in their own search advertising:

Simple. Concise. A story in one sentence.

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