You’re onto something huge if you can make spending money fun. I don’t mean the feeling of euphoria from treating yourself to something new. I mean that the transaction itself is a blast! Over the past few weeks I’ve been using Apple Pay, the mobile payment system that allows you to make everyday purchases with the tap of an iPhone 6 (or higher). I was eager to try it out but also skeptical, like most new pieces of technology that come out, because I didn’t realize how easy it was to use. But the premise is pretty simple: when you need to pay for something you just tap your phone and you’re done.
I accidentally discovered you could pull up Miss Apple Pay even when the iPhone is asleep by double pressing the home button. And then, poof, there it is. How smart is that! The first time I used it was getting on the 55 bus in London, one of the busiest routes in the city. It didn’t work or maybe I didn’t do something right. Really embarrassing. The 55 is always full, late or both, so it probably wasn’t the best time to try out a new piece of technology I wasn’t confident using with like 299 people desperate to cram into the bus, collectively rolling their eyes when it didn’t work being all, Ugh, look at this asshole with his fancy Apple Pay. Move it along, buddy!
Now that I know how to use it, the real invention is the experience: they’ve made paying for things fun, even satisfying. It’s cool that when you use Apple Pay you get a green light. The phone vibrates, like a rhythmic happy face emoji that pops up to let you know you’re so cool because you paid with Apple Pay!
Apple Pay is really useful for people who live in big cities. When commuting to school, on a crowded bus, I’m always on my phone. I’m scrolling through Instagram or BuzzFeed, seeing what’s popping off on Facebook or listening to music, and that means the last thing I want to do when I go through the turnstile is put my phone on pause so I can fumble through my wallet or search for my ticket, doing so smoothly without dropping anything or being too slow.
But this isn’t just a story about Apple because other mobile platforms, like Android Pay and Samsung Pay, offer nearly identical systems. This is about the fact that one day in the not too distant future, physical bank cards will be such a thing of the past. Imagine going to Whole Foods in 2020 and you’re waiting on line behind someone who pays with a DEBIT CARD? I was leaving the library at my campus the other day and wished I could just load my faculty ID to my iPhone. The possibilities are endless.
It’s amazing that even the way we pay for things is impacted by the experience economy, where the primary commodity for consumers is not the physical item we’re paying for. It’s not even how the places we shop make us feel. Now it’s all about the experience we get and brands have realized that spending money, exchanging money for goods and services, is an experience, too.