New competition for Twint

The contactless payment market is in upheaval. Just recently, Twint and Paymit announced their merger. This week, Swatch is launching the Bellamy payment watch in Switzerland.

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And with Apple Pay, an international heavyweight will soon be in the mix here. In Europe, the Apple Pay payment service can currently only be used in the UK. Soon, the market entry will also take place in France and Switzerland (Werbewoche.ch reported). Initially, customers of the credit card companies Visa and Mastercard who have a card from Bonuscard, Cornèrcard and Swiss Bankers can pay with Apple Pay, as Apple announced on its website on Tuesday. When exactly Apple Pay will launch in Switzerland, however, is still unclear. According to communications from Visa and Mastercard, it should be ready "in the summer". According to media reports, which refer to statements made by Apple's software chief at the WWDC developer conference in San Francisco, Swiss customers will still have to wait "a few months".

Contactless payment increasingly popular

With Apple Pay, a credit card must be deposited. After that, the mobile phone will work in the same way as for contactless payment with a credit card. The service will therefore be available at all checkouts equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) radio terminals: In addition to Migros and Coop, this is also the case at Aldi, Lidl, Spar and the Valora chains K Kiosk and Avec. According to Stefan Holbein, Country Manager of Visa Europe Switzerland, Switzerland is virtually predestined for payment via smartphone. In May, 11.3 percent of all Visa transactions in this country were processed via contactless. A year ago, this figure was only half as high. Today, two-thirds of all Visa terminals in Switzerland are already equipped with NFC technology. By 2020, the standard should be available at all terminals, Holbein said at a conference call on Tuesday.

Competition for Twint

The market entry of Apple Pay is likely to be a litmus test for the Swiss payment app Twint, which will be merged with the competing product Paymit in the autumn. The fact that Switzerland is a real iPhone country with a market share of a good 50 percent speaks in favor of Apple's solution. Although the latest models have NFC on board, Apple has so far refused app developers access to the interface. The manufacturer only allows Apple Pay to communicate via NFC. Therefore, Twint and Paymit will have to resort to other technologies until further notice. With Paymit, for example, a QR code must be scanned. With Twint, payments are processed via Bluetooth at a separate terminal at the store checkout. However, the new Twint app is prepared for the event that Apple changes its policy: The solution will be designed to be open to technology and can also integrate the wireless technology NFC.

Bulwark against Apple

Nevertheless, Twint does not have to hide from Apple Pay. The merged service is backed by UBS, Credit Suisse, Postfinance, Raiffeisen and ZKB, the five largest Swiss banks, Coop and Migros, the two largest retailers, and Swisscom, the largest telecommunications provider in Switzerland. In a press release, Twint is somewhat relaxed about the new competition. The competition is welcomed, it says. This will further sensitise users to mobile payments. The statement also stresses that Twint can be used regardless of the smartphone's operating system. Apple Pay, on the other hand, only works with an Apple operating system. In addition to the iPhone, payment is also possible with the iPad and the Apple Watch.

New competition on the way

But Apple is not Twint's only new competitor. On Thursday, watch giant Swatch launches in Switzerland with its Bellamy payment watch. Like Apple Pay, Bellamy also uses NFC technology. Comparable to a contactless credit card, the watch simply has to be held up to the point-of-sale terminal. There is no need to open an app. Mondaine is relying on the same technology. In late summer, the watch manufacturer from Schwyz plans to launch its first collection with a payment function. In addition, it should only be a matter of time before the smartphone world market leader Samsung also comes to Switzerland with its payment offer. The market launch in Singapore is scheduled for Thursday. The service is already available in the US, South Korea, China and Spain. (SDA)

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Image: Swatch.com

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