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You can also use the Apple Watch to pay
You can also use the Apple Watch to pay
Ninon Renaud

PARIS — After changing the way we listen to music with the iPod and kickstarting the smartphone era with the iPhone, is Apple Pay going to revolutionize how we pay? The least we can say is that the Cupertino giant has done everything to maximize its chances of succeeding in its objective: to relegate wallets to museum pieces.

The strength of Apple Pay lies in the way the company integrates it in the payment ecosystem. Instead of confronting the banks on their own terrain, as others have done, Tim Cook and his group chose to become their allies. It’s a win-win situation for Apple, as it can promise its clients not to use their banking data while pledging to help banks fight against fraud, which represents an estimated 0.145% of the sums paid in card transactions.

Apple’s authentication system, which uses the iPhone 6’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, coupled with an encryption process of all data linked with the bank cards, indeed reinforces the security of Apple Pay.

In exchange, the company will take a share of the commissions cashed in by the banks. That amount is estimated at around 0.2% per transaction made via Apple Pay, which leaves U.S. banks with 0.3% to 0.8%, depending on the payment mode (debit or credit card).

But before Apple can export its new service across the Atlantic, it will need to adapt its model to fit the European system. "Apple’s prism seems entirely American. Whether it’s because of its commercial or security approach, this economic model cannot be implemented that easily in Europe," warns Gilbert Arira, CEO of the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires CB.

On the Old Continent, interchange fees are indeed significantly lower, especially in France where they only represent 0.28% of a transaction. This proportion makes it difficult for a new player to get a worthwhile share. Not to mention the fact that many banks have already invested a lot of money in e-wallets, with which Apple Pay would be competing.

Fraud is also less frequent in Europe, as the chip-and-PIN cards are a lot more secure than the magnetic strip cards used in the U.S. In France, fraud represents 0.045% of the sums paid by cards, some 30% less than in the U.S.

So what economic equation will Apple offer to European banks? However complex it might be, "Apple is a norm-maker," admits a banker. In other words, it would be best to work hand-in-hand with the tech retail company than against it.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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