America’s tech giants Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple continue apace their march into payments. With Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Facebook Pay, and Apple Pay, they’ve put their brands foremost and use payments to boost on-platform engagement and commerce, reinforcing their centrality in consumers’ lives.
They’ve taken an incrementalist approach, working with incumbent payment networks, processors, and banks, thus far. However, as their payments’ footprints broaden and deepen, that modus vivendi will be stressed.
In particular, Facebook, the world’s leading social-media network outside China, bears watching. It’s starting to roll out Facebook Pay to two billion WhatsApp users and prepping to launch Libra, which could roil the reigning payments ecosystem.
Libra uses stablecoins backed by fiat currencies. If it gets traction it’ll be disruptive. However, building payment-network critical mass, and therefore value and relevance, is hard. Existing systems work. Consumers and merchants are creatures of habit in payments. The graveyard of