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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Five years later: has Apple Pay caught on?

Apple Pay just passed its fifth anniversary. One may remember Apple beginnings in the world of payment were under fire from critics of all kinds as the company faced at the same time the complexity of signing partners in an established payment environment and the difficulty of getting customers to adopt a new behavior. The payment ecosystem is complex: one needs to have at the same time merchants, issuing and acquiring partners and to rely on a complex hardware ecosystem, NFC-enabled mobile phones and POS terminals, which all need to have received the latest software update. As mobile payment brought its new set of security requirements, Apple also had to interact with the payment schemes and other players in the ecosystem to set up tokenization principles and services. At the time, Apple Pay was considered as a solution in search of its problem.

The situation has changed now as most Apple mobile phones are NFC-enabled, there has been a huge surge in contactless POS terminals, and Apple has been successful in signing a large number of partners across the whole payment ecosystem.

Now, in the US, Apple Pay has become the market leader on proximity mobile payments. According to eMarketer, this year Apple Pay will have 30.3 million users in the US, representing 47.3% of proximity mobile payment users. In comparison, Starbucks, the second payment app has 25.2 million users (39.4%), leaving less than 14% of the market to be shared by all other mobile payment solution providers. Total spending via proximity mobile payments will approach US$ 100 billion (EUR 90 billion) this year in the US, says eMarketer. makes an interesting parallel between Apple Pay and Walmart Pay, which is using QR codes, introduced in the US in 2015. From day one, Walmart Pay was accepted in all Walmart stores and gained a quick adoption. However, the adoption curve soon reached a plateau, and then declined. Earlier this year, Walmart announced it would discontinue Walmart Pay within months, as the company’s online order-ahead and curbside pickup for groceries has been steadily developing.

So, has mobile payment and especially Apple Pay caught on? Maybe not as much as we would expect. surveyed consumers and establishes its index measuring “the percentage of transactions at merchants that accept Apple Pay and where the consumer has a device that is compatible with Apple Pay in which Apple Pay was used to make the purchase.” Of course, the index has grown steadily since Apple Pay introduction, but for the time being, it remains lagging at around 6%, still insignificant compared to other payment means.

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