The future of electronic payments may not be Apple Pay, PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ: PYPL) or Android Pay but America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM).
The bank is successfully positioning itself as a strong competitor in the digital wallet wars with its Chase Pay solution. Payments Source reported that Chase’s payment app is now integrated with Starbucks’ (NASDAQ: SBUX) app. That’s important because it gets Chase Pay into 7,500 Starbucks locations throughout the United States.
The Starbucks app also supports Apple Pay but not Android Pay or Samsung Pay, which gives Chase an edge. Chase was able to get into Starbucks Pay through its existing relationship with America’s favorite retail coffee chain. The two companies have teamed up in the past on Visa cards, and Chase is Starbucks’ processor for non-mobile credit and debit card payments.
Chase’s Advantages with Big Retail
The Starbucks deal highlights what could be Chase’s biggest advantage in the payment wars: its strong existing relationships with retailers. These have been built up by years of trust, and they will be critical to getting digital wallets widely accepted in the U.S.
One of Apple Pay’s greatest weaknesses is its lack of history with retailers. Major retailers have shunned the solution because it lacks history and a network behind it. Chase has been able to leverage its other relationships to get another solution, called Chase Quick Pay, offered through the Merchant Customer Exchange’s Current C app. Current C is a digital wallet that will be offered by a variety of major retailers, including Walmart, Target and CVS pharmacies.
Chase’s Secret Weapon Against Apple Pay
The retail network might not be Chase’s biggest advantage. The monster bank’s real secret weapon could be automatic teller machines (ATMs). News reports indicate that Chase is developing a card-less ATM that is supposed to work with digital wallets like Chase Pay. The advantage to this is obvious: It allows digital wallet users to get cash.
That is important because 40% of the transactions in the United States are still made with plain old-fashioned paper cash. It could be even more vital overseas, where 85% of the purchases are still made with cash. Apple Pay’s greatest weakness is that users have no way to withdraw cash.
Chase’s card-less ATM is scheduled to be tested later this year, possibly in August or September. News reports indicate that Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) is testing similar ATMs in a number of American cities.
An obvious advantage to card-less ATMs is that customers will be able to use them to withdraw cash with a number of different apps. That means Chase could be able to get a fee every time an Apple Pay or Android Pay user needs cash for a garage sale or tips. Another advantage is that it can help users of solutions such as PayPal, Venmo and online banks get cash quickly.
This could make Chase the clear leader in the digital wallet battles despite all the hype about Apple Pay. Naturally, investors will be wondering if Chase is a good stock, and it is.
Is Chase a Value Investment?
Beyond its bright future in digital payment, Chase is a really good value investment that generates a lot of cash. It reported some really good numbers for Fourth Quarter 2015.
The highlights include the following:
- A TTM revenue of $93.54 billion on December 31, 2015
- A net income of $24.44 billion
- A profit margin of 23.74%
- A free cash flow of $16.17 billion
- $360.5 billion in cash and short-term investments
- $73.47 billion in cash from operations
- A diluted earnings per share ratio of 5.995
Chase’s investors were rewarded with a dividend yield of 2.85% and a return on equity of 11.28%. However, it does seem a little overvalued; on March 4, 2016, Chase had a market capitalization of $221.5 billion and an enterprise value of $210.95 billion.
Despite that, Chase looks like a classic Warren Buffett-style value investment because it is a good company that generates a lot of cash and pays a nice dividend. It is certainly worth the price that Mr. Market is charging, and Chase has some interesting growth opportunities ahead of it.
One popular Buffett lesson that is often ignored is Uncle Warren’s habit of paying extra for good companies. Despite its problems and recent revenue losses, Chase is still a really good company that makes a lot of money.
Investors that are looking for a fairly safe way to cash in on the digital wallet fad should take a look at Chase. The monster bank seems undervalued at $60 a share (the price on March 4), yet it seems to be the company in the best position to cash in on the growing use of digital wallets in a big way.
Disclosure: The Blogger owns shares of Bank of America and PayPal Holdings.