iPay: Will iTunes Become a Payments Platform?

For the longest time Apple has been the "sleeping giant" of mobile payments with its more than 100 million registered iTunes users (credit cards on file). PayPal reportedly has about 75 million by comparison. 

A new Apple hire reported in NFC World and by the NY Times suggests that Apple may be waking up to mobile payments and seek to turn iTunes into iWallet. It's a very logical step for the company to take.

Beyond PayPal Apple would have competition directly from Visa and AT&T and Verizon, potentially. Smaller companies such as Zong and Boku offer carrier billing. There are a range of other m-payments companies such as Bango and Obopay. Nokia is in there as well, though its current solution is focused on the developing world. 

Like most segments the market doesn't have room for more than a few large competitors. If Apple does enter the space it's sure to be one of them (in the US). Apple's brand credibility could also dramatically accelerate the adoption of mobile wallets/payments in the way that iAd has help to do with mobile advertising. 

Google Checkout should be one of these payment giants but the company so far has blown the opportunity with consumers, though it has been trying to reinvigorate Checkout of late. If PayPal hadn't already been bought by eBay you can be sure that Google would be buying it now.

Will Google now pick up one of the smaller players in mobile payments even though it has checkout? My guess is yes and that it will either be Boku or Zong.