September 23, 2013
My prediction is that Apple is going to enter the banking business and disrupt the heck out of it. I sure hope so. I’d switch my account to an Apple Bank on the first day of business if they did it right, and they probably would.
The fingerprint technology on the new iPhones is the first step. Once Apple controls the process of identifying a customer, both by fingerprint and possibly by physical location of the phone, it will have the first phase of a stranglehold on banking.
Retail banking is the most tangled rat’s nest of a legacy system that civilization has ever known. Nothing really compares in terms of how it touches nearly every citizen (or should) and how user-unfriendly it is. Compare the potential of an Apple Bank to the potential of a crappy me-too Apple wristwatch. Now ask yourself if Apple thinks small.
Lately Apple has been too quiet, and probably not because Jobs has shed his mortal coil to become pure energy, or whatever it is that he negotiated with the universe. I think Apple has something big planned, and it isn’t television and it isn’t a watch, although they might take a run at those products too.
Online banking and banking apps are big improvements over the old process of walking into a branch bank. But we’re still clearly in the Sony Walkman phase of where online banking needs to be. It should take three seconds to pay a bill online, not five minutes. I should be able to send money to anyone on my contacts list in seconds. I should never need to carry credit cards and ATM cards again.
Why do you have to fill out so much paperwork to apply for a loan when all of your records already exist somewhere in the cloud? My Apple Bank would know everything about me, including my credit worthiness, at all times. If I want a loan I should have it in less than five seconds from the time I put my thumb on my phone.
I don’t think I need to describe all of the inefficiencies with the current banking system. You get the idea. In my view, the marriage of smartphones with banking represents the largest market opportunity in history. Would Apple stay out of that business just because entering would be hard? I don’t think so.
Disclosure: I own some Apple stock. I often wish I didn’t.