Beware companies that make it easier for you to spend – pretty soon you’re just spent. And don’t Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) know it – Apple, for what it’s trying to do with something tentatively called the “iWallet,” and Disney for what it’s already doing with something called “MagicBands.” In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Disney’s success with its flexible smart wristbands got Apple embracing one-shop spending technologies. Bottom line, Disney’s making a fortune off it. For those who haven’t recently frequented Disney World, the MagicBands are all the rage – lightweight, flexible wristbands that allow park-goers to effortlessly buy what they want, wherever they want, with the tap of the wrist – or more to the point, the tap of the wrist to special sensors found on all Disney properties, including stores, hotels, and restaurants, even vending stands. Take it from me, because of these darn bands, Disney’s gotten a lot more money from me. With the band, Disney visitors can travel light and spend big…apparently a lot bigger than they would using conventional cash or credit cards. The magic of the MagicBand isn’t that it makes it so much easier for customers to spend, it’s how much more in the end they do spend. I’ve seen it for myself – traveling through a crowded park with kids, one tap of a band to get them drinks or a snack on the fly sure beats stopping and scouring through your wallet for cash. It’s effortless, and it makes spending money almost thoughtless. And therein lies its beauty and for Disney, its latest booming business. Analysts estimate the band already has been a billion-dollar bonanza, and one likely replicated at other parks and amusement centers across the country – and not just Disney’s. Enter Apple, which early on found out how making something simple, makes consumers just want to spend more. Its iTunes service remains a cash cow for the electronics giant – as much for its ease of use as for its embedded technology that makes it safe and convenient for customers to use (so far). But the iWallet, or whatever approved and patented name Apple ultimately calls it, opens up a far wider and ubiquitous presence for this technology titan. Just as iTunes single-handedly changed the way folks download music without ever stopping in a store, Apple’s wallet initiative stands to forever change how folks purchase items while they’re in a store. Any store, any time, Apple is making it easy to spend on the fly, and now that it’s signed up Visa (NYSE:V), Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) to its new payments system, easier to consumers to simply tap their phone on a Disney-like-device “reader” and spend away. So get ready to part with more of your cash, even though you won’t actually be “seeing” that cash go. It’s all digital. But trust me, it’s all your dollars. And like Disney, it stands to make it a whole lot easier for consumers to part with those dollars – not because they want to, but because it’s so easy to do. After all, the biggest impediment to consumer spending oftentimes is the process behind that spending. Think about the times you’ve waited at the register for a credit card authorization to go through, or for you or someone else to physically write out a check or rifle through a wallet for cash. Disney took that time and inconvenience out of the process. But the flipside is Disney also made it a darn near mindless process. Customers don’t even think about the money they’re spending. It’s impulsive, and it adds up. Disney’s happy about it, but let’s just say I don’t know if all those customers are when they get their bill upon checking out. There’s nothing retailers like more than having customers spend more; and that often involves making it so easy that those customers think less. Think Pavlov, and you’re the dog. Only the bell here is a chip, and you’re the one getting the bill for the experiment.
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