Facebook, Apple and Amazon take on the financial services industry

32% of all e-commerce payments are now made on a smartphone, fintech companies are in a race to help consumers make purchases easier.

With 32% of all e-commerce payments now made on a smartphone[i], it’s unsurprising that financial services technology companies are in a race to help consumers make purchases easier and quicker.

At Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June this year, the firm announced its new operating system, iOS8, which is due to be launched in October. One of the new features will be a  capability enabling users to take a picture of their credit card to make payments online more easily. The forthcoming function will automatically fill in online payment forms for users by using the camera on the iPhone to scan credit card details and extract the card information, a feature predicted to shave crucial seconds off the online checkout process.

 More recently, Amazon announced its entry into the financial services sector with Amazon Wallet, now available in beta on Amazon Appstore and Google Play. Where Apple’s scanner saves time, Amazon Wallet saves space, decluttering unnecessary cards, vouchers and receipts. The user can scan in loyalty, membership and gift cards, storing all information in one centralised place, and keep on top of the balance of these cards to make money management easier. Currently, the app has limited functionality, but its potential is clear, and Amazon is even talking about facilitating peer to peer payments via the Amazon Wallet in the near future.

 Finally, Facebook and Twitter joined the mobile payment party earlier this week. Facebook is testing a Buy button that appears on ads and business pages, enabling users to purchase products advertised without having to leave the social network. Twitter on the other hand acquired CardSpring, a payments infrastructure company, with a goal to bring “in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users”.

 Mobile payments and digital wallets are still burgeoning fields with an array of different products and players. There is little sign of standardisation, but major players making moves like these are clear evidence of the benefits of frictionless payments. Which retail focused financial services innovation are you most looking forward to?