Skip to main content

Apple Pay Weak Start Down To Launch Locations

Recently released reports from Infoscout and Kantar have given the lie to Tim Cook's claim that 2015 would be the year of Apple Pay.

It turns out that most of the people who can use Apple Pay don't. And those that do make for a very low percentage of transaction payment methods in use today.

Why should this be? Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs style visionary, but he's proven to be a pretty astute leader. How can he have got his assessment of Apple Pay so wrong?

The problem is down to Apple's US-centric world view. For most of the year Apple Pay has only been in use in America, a country that lags the rest of the world in the adoption of payment technology. The magnetic stripe card is still the most common payment method here.

Apple Pay relies on the availability of NFC payment ready card readers - as used by Visa and Mastercard's existing contactless payment cards. In a country the size of the US it's unsurprising that these readers aren't widely available.
As I've written about before, one of the important factors affecting take up of phone based wallets is the ubiquity of the solution. If you have to carry your 'real' bank card with you because you don't know whether your 'virtual' one will be accepted where you are, why bother with the fuss of the phone wallet?
If customers aren't clamouring to pay with their phones why would retailers make the investment to upgrade their payment hardware?
If Apple had launched Apple Pay in Europe or Oceania where contactless readers are far more common it would have a success story to talk about. More readers equals more opportunities to try the service, equals more adoption, equals more readers. For Apple it would be a virtuous circle.

Instead it has only recently launched in the UK as the first non-US market.

Meanwhile the banks are aligning behind their own contactless solutions in an attempt to preempt Apple's entry into their markets. As a result if you want to use a phone for contactless payments outside of the US you're usually going to need an Android phone - and probably a Samsung one at that.
Which is some distance from the message that Tim Cook was pushing when he said that 2015 would be the year of Apple Pay.