In fact, Crone says, Apple possesses a huge advantage over other companies if it chooses to pursue the mobile payment sector more aggressively than it does in current iterations of Passbook: It has credit card information for half-a-billion customers already.
"That gives them a huge leg up," Crone says. "Can they extend that huge base to making payments at the physical point of sale? The answer is clearly yes."
Whether Apple makes that move or not, though, the mobile payment field should begin to grow quickly—and not just because merchants love it so much. It also makes life easier for consumers.
"Our goal is to be the easiest place to get your lunch," says Chopt's Marsh. "People demand instant gratification. They'd also like an unencumbered experience. Everything should work smoothly."