Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) hasn’t got much to say about the mobile world at the moment, but that is going to change as the company’s cloud business picks up speed. The Redmond, Washington firm has been quietly building regulatory approval for a payment system, and it’s going to be one of the names to watch in the space.
Microsoft has an advantage in payments that the like of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) don’t: a direct line to the business world. Microsoft’s products run businesses across the world, and a Microsoft payments solution could garner their trust very quickly.
Microsoft gets its first payment license
Banking consultant Faisal Khan spotted the Microsoft moves into the payment world back in March. At the end of that month Microsoft got its first “money transmitter” license from the State of Idaho Department of Finance.
The company has applied for licenses across the country, in all 50 states, though it doesn’t have any public plans to enter the world of banking and payments just yet.
Apple already has its regulatory approval across the United States sewn up, and the firm is starting to get its act together around the world. That’s an advantage, but Tim Cook is aiming at a market that Microsoft may not be interested in.
Satya Nadella is not a fan of limiting Microsoft products to Microsoft hardware and he’s shown it since he took the over at the helm of the firm. Office for both Apple’s iOS and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), (NASDAQ:GOOGL) match up to versions on the Windows platform.
Each new release from the company quickly hits those competing platforms too. There’s no reason to think that a Microsoft mobile payments system wouldn’t work on competing mobile platforms.
The firm is still putting the service at the heart of Windows 10 Phone, however, with Host Card Emulation being built into the OS according to Megan Geuss at Ars Technica.
Enterprise is the key to payments
As with the credit card, mobile payments will get their first big boost when companies begin to use them. That has to happen on two sides. Enterprise needs to take mobile payments from consumers, but they also need to use them themselves for expenses and for paying other businesses.
That’s a much bigger payment book than consumer world is likely to amount to, and Microsoft is the only firm with a direct line to those businesses and a mobile platform to back it up.
Microsoft may just launch a limp attempt to compete with Apple, or the firm could try its best to wrest the market away from Tim Cook’s firm before it gets a chance to grow and consolidate. As Facebook and Google are proving, the iPhone is just a platform and it doesn’t have to be controlled by Cupertino.
Enterprise may be the key market for payments. Microsoft’s cloud services, which payments could form a part of, are becoming more and more popular with each passing day. That gives Microsoft an edge in launching mobile payments and scaling it up. Apple should watch out for the company in the months and years ahead.