The NFC fueled mobile payment race is off, and at least for the time being Subway customers will not be using Apple Pay to buy their favorite sandwiches.
Subway announced on Tuesday that the chain will begin their NFC-based mobile payment program on October 1st using Softcard, formerly known as ISIS wallet. Softcard boasts an application that comes pre-loaded on many Android devices and is available on more than 80 million devices sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
This program, which was tested in 2013 is expected to reach more than 26,000 Subway locations in the United States, and allow some 30 million users – which Softcard’s application comes preloaded on their NFC-qualifying device to begin using immediately to make purchases immediately at launch.
However, iPhone 6 users will, unfortunately, not be able to use Softcard. Even with the addition of NFC capability within the devices – it’s being limited to strictly Apple Pay.
That may only be temporary though, as Softcard CEO Michael Abbott said in a blog post – shared September 9th that the company is “actively working with Apple to enable Softcard on the iPhone in 2015 – using an integrated secure SIM-based hardware solution.”
Subway though is taking mobile payment a step further by coupling this with their rewards cards – which the company says will be automatically loaded onto devices, and Softcard accounts, as time goes on.
The service hinges around technology that is quickly becoming the most important piece of technology inside of smartphones – that will take them to the next level in terms of experience and capability.
NFC, or Near-Field Communication is the act of essentially creating or establishing a radio connection – more specifically communication – so that devices can work together when placed near each other, or touch.
This is the technology that is being used in all mobile payment options that we’re seeing on the market right now, and it definitely will be a predominant part of any partnership like what Subway and Softcard have created.
Interestingly, Softcard could very easily end up Apple Pay’s biggest challenger in the coming years. Softcard did however go through a rather rough phase at the end of 2013 and early 2014 as their previous name ISIS Wallet, turned into a PR nightmare.