Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s hope that 2015 would be the “year of Apple Pay,” it may have a harder time making it out of the “first inning” than expected. But maybe not for the reasons you expected.
First though, let’s call a spade a spade – Apple’s mobile payment app is undoubtedly cool. So cool, in fact, that “even hipster rock stars are using it.” The NFC payment system was featured in a Chase banking commercial, where an Urban-Outfitters-catalog-come-to-life group of musicians use it while they tour. The ragtag gang is actually uber-cool Indie band Bleachers, and the Chase commercial is more or less a 90-second spot for Apple Pay.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the Indie rock stars, you may still admit that the potential to make in-store purchases with your phone is great. We have our smartphones and other Jetsons inspired devices cemented to our back pocket anyways, to the point where it almost feels as much a vital part of your existence as your knees or jugular might – particularly if you are part of my social buzzing, app lovin’ millennial generation. In spite of all this, Apple is having a hard time getting the 74.5 billion people who bought an iPhone 6 or 6 plus over the holiday quarter to just be cool and give Apple Pay a go.
So why aren’t people jumping on board and throwing out their bulky leather wallets for an easy, hardwired app? For starters, it’s not super fun if the payment app doesn’t work where you typically shop. Apple does have a fairly substantial list of partnered merchants willing to accept Apple Pay, such as Chevron, Macy’s, McDonalds, Petco, and Apple Stores (naturally). However, they’ve run into some difficulty trying to recruit other major retailers like CVS, Target and Walmart, all of whom are using a competing software called CurrentC. Unless one of these retailers jumps ship and gives Apple Pay a try, it looks like Apple has come against an impenetrable wall of solidarity.
There’s also a lack of incentive for iPhone owners to use Apple Pay. Of course, its much easier to make purchases in-app while shopping online via your phone, since you don’t have to fill out tedious shipping and credit card information. But, there is a definitely lack of “oomph” to motivate shoppers to use it for in-store shopping. Re/code suggests loyalty programs to encourage iPhone holders to try Apple Pay next time they’re buying a McFlurry, filling up their tank or getting a new leash for Fido. It could, ideally, act like a rewards membership program, similar to what American Express does with its rewards card.
Another kink in Apple Pay’s armor may be something consumers have already voiced concern over – security. You don’t need to look very far to find highly publicized data leaks, store credit card breaches and malware that demands a ransom be paid. Though Apple Pay claims to be near impossible to hack because of fingerprint encryption, many still speculate the strength of its security. And it’s not just the threat of data leaks and cleaned out bank accounts that have people worried – there’s also the potential of Apple Pay becoming the easiest and most dangerous gateway to impulse buying. As Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian put it, “the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced something genuinely terrifying was introduced to the world.”
As Cook has come to realize, 2015 being the year of Apple Pay is not a sure-fire guarantee. If there’s one thing we’ve come to know about the ecommerce and tech monoliths that are constantly evolving, it’s that they don’t give up that easily.
Would you feel safe using Apple Pay? Would access to more retailers be enough incentive for you to try it? Let us know what you think in the comments.