Bluetooth 4.0 would enable retail stores to roll out instant iWallet point-of-sale systems that use iPads or Apple desktops or laptops. These systems would eliminate the need for iPhone owners to go to a checkout counter or use a credit card.
Stores using cash registers and Google Wallet could also cheaply and easily offer Bluetooth 4.0 iWallet solutions as well. That would give iPhone users the retail equivalent of the airlines' "business class" status; unlike users of credit cards or Google Wallet, they wouldn't have to wait in line or even go anywhere near a checkout counter to pay for their purchases.
In restaurants, credit card transactions would continue to require servers to make two trips between the table and the cash register -- one to carry the card to the register for approval, and the other to punch in the tip and file the signed credit card slip.
For its part, Google Wallet would require just one trip -- for the waiter to bring an NFC device to the table. But Apple iWallet users wouldn't need the server at all: They'd just pay on the smartphone and go.
If Bluetooth 4.0 makes it possible for Apple to simplify restaurant and retail payments to that extent, users would have an incentive to switch to iPhones, restaurateurs and store owners would be inclined to switch to iPads, and financial services companies, including credit card companies, would be willing to play ball with Apple.
It would also give Google an incentive to embrace Bluetooth 4.0 payments as well. Apple would be crazy not do to it.
If a Bluetooth 4.0-based Apple iWallet is a success, it could be the beginning of the end for the venerable cash register.
Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.
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