There’s always a bit of mystification on the performance of recently launched Apple products in the tech giant’s earnings call. There’s no exception for Apple Pay. Without offering any further details, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the payment application “is seeing double digit growth in transaction month after month”. Baring complete flops, double digit growth of recently launched productions is quite obvious due to a base effect. So Apple watchers are left a little in the blind.
Fortunately, others are providing some clues on what’s going on with Apple Pay. For instance Pymnts.com offers a nice insight in the usage. The numbers are not impressive. After one year, Apple Pay-usage of iPhone 6/6s users rose from 9.0% to 16.6% in October 2015. There’s also a rising percentage of users who not consider using Apply Pay. The group who used it, but doesn’t or rarely considers new usage grew from 18% to 25%. It should be noted that the group of iPhone 6/6s owners is growing and Apple continues its efforts to expand availability. Yesterday CEO Cook announced that the company is partnering with American Express to bring Apple to Australia and Canada this year, while Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong will follow next year.
What is holding usage back? Surprisingly, a large group of potential users (>30%) simply forgets to use Apple Pay. But also a number of persons (roughly 30%) is not sure whether the point of sale accepts Apple Pay. Another large issue is the lack of terminals equipped with NFC-technology. Apple’s main competitor Samsung therefore decided to introduce a payment app which can be used with NFC as well as with magnetic stripe readers. Samsung Pay was launched September 28 in the US. Remarkably, since then 3 out of 4 Samsung Pay transactions were made using a magnetic stripe reader. Since almost all merchants have a magnetic stripe reader (for credit and debit cards), nearly all transactions can be made with Samsung Pay. This is a huge advantage over competitor Apple Pay, but also Android Pay which is NFC-based as well. Samsung Pay is supported by all major telecom carriers in the US. Samsung partners with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Chase and others will be added the next months. As a result, Samsung Pay looks like the complete package for mobile payments.
But the largest threshold to use a telephone for payments may lie in the device itself. Using a phone instead of a card doesn’t feel natural, so it probably takes a while before users will adjust. In addition, a small plastic card may still be more user friendly. With a large number of cards equipped with a NFC-chip, installing an app on the phone isn’t required and therefore, payment cards may still have the upper hand.