Mossberg reviews Apple Pay: ‘Worked smoothly and quickly’

“Amid all the products Apple introduced this fall, the most impactful might be one that isn’t a physical product at all: Apple Pay,” Walt Mossberg writes for Re/code. “It’s a service that allows you to load digital versions of your credit cards into Apple’s latest devices, and pay for goods with them wirelessly, using a short-range technology called NFC.”

“So, does it work? To find out, your four-person Re/code Reviews team spent most of the week doing the arduous work of shopping, on both coasts. We bought everything from electronics to food to makeup — with digital versions of our everyday credit cards stored on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus,” Mossberg writes. “Our overall conclusion: Apple Pay worked smoothly and quickly in all but a very few instances. But the number of physical and online stores that accept it at launch is still very small. Plus, some common things slow it down, like the need for signatures and debit-card PINs in some stores, its lack of support for loyalty cards, and cashier confusion.”

MacDailyNews Take: One of our staffers made a purchase yesterday at a Walgreens and, when asked, the cashier thought Apple Pay was “coming soon.” Our staffer pointed to the payment terminal’s screen and the “Apple Pay” logo on it. When he put his iPhone 6 Plus up to the terminal, he was prompted for a Touch ID fingerprint, and the phone vibrated and confirmed payment, as did the cashier’s register display. The cashier told him, “Wow! That was easy. You’re the first one to ever use Apple Pay at this Walgreens.” So, yes, some cashiers still have yet to get the memo.

“My results: Apple Pay worked, easily and well, in all but one of the stores Apple said it would. Bonus: It also worked perfectly at one major store that Apple didn’t list as a partner: CVS,” Mossberg writes. “My sole failure was at Subway, the sandwich shop that Apple lists as a launch partner. Neither of the two branches I tried had the right kind of payment terminal needed for Apple Pay. A Subway spokesman said: ‘Apple Pay is available in 95 percent of our restaurants with the rest to follow shortly.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple Pay today and tomorrow – October 24, 2014
List of banks slated to support Apple Pay soon – October 23, 2014
Cashiers don’t understand Apple Pay and it’s totally adorable – October 23, 2014
American Express and Visa love Apple Pay – October 23, 2014
Apple Pay: Yet another game-changing revolution from Apple as the digital wallet pays up – October 23, 2014
Shopping with Apple Pay: Convenient, problem-free and even fun – October 21, 2014
McDonald’s: Decision to support Apple Pay was easy – October 20, 2014
Apple Pay launches today and retail will never be the same – October 20, 2014


    1. Actually, if Apple Pay works there, Google Wallet should also work there. I think Google Wallet is great for those people who have Android phones. I prefer the added security of Apple Pay, but this is a case where the adoption of one helps the adoption of the other. The barrier they don’t share is getting support from card issuers. Fortunately, Apple has this handled pretty well, although my credit union does not yet support Apple Pay. But since I use a different card to pay most of the time, it’s not a burden. If only I could get a grocery store chain in my area to support NFC.

  1. MDN’s headline (which cherry-picks Mossberg’s always-rosy-on-Apple take) aside, the truth in the article seems much less smooth or quick:

    Reporter 1: 3 out of 5 purchases plus adding the card to ApplePay failed.

    Reporter 2: 1 out of 8 purchases failed, and the summary: “Do I think it’s any more convenient than taking out my wallet and swiping a card? Not really.”

    Reporter 3: 1 out of 6 purchases failed and “Apple Pay won’t show purchases made with debit cards.”

    Reporter 4: 1 out of 9 purchases failed and “its speediness was compromised by the need to sign for purchases over a certain amount, just like with a plastic card. This even happened, ironically, at Apple’s own retail store”

    1. I am appalled at the number of people, including posters here, who wonder why everything isn’t perfect yet. ApplePay is being evaluated like a mature service that should be perfect. Running through or passing on the lists of “failures” and imperfections in ApplePay makes zero sense to me. It’s new!!! It’s (possibly) not perfect yet!! And that mostly has nothing to do with Apple at the moment.

      If there is someone who expects this new paradigm to work perfectly instantly, they live in a different world than the one I’m in. Many of us knew from the beginning there may be glitches (not necessarily from Apple) and that it would take a while to fully ramp up. There will be an issue if a security problem turns up in AP. That would be one we can pin on Apple. If not, doesn’t anyone have the sense to withhold flaunting the still few negatives, as though that’s the final review, until it’s substantially older than six days?

      I think it’s doing great! Merchants will take a while to come on board and get used to it. Quite normal! To me, its biggest point is security. Those who figure they can swipe a card just as fast so, what’s the big deal?…don’t get it. Security means keeping your personal and card data out of any hackable system… and protected even if it is hacked. Target?…and countless others!

      ApplePay is MAJOR. It will beat its “competitors” because Apple alone will be able to bring on board the countless merchants who will be signing up. Pressure from Apple people will ensure things will be quite different a year from now. The way these early reviewers are talking, its as though they want to be able to say, “It’s not so good,” now…before it becomes nearly perfect in the relatively near future. Give it a bit longer than six days!

    2. So about the same rate as chip and pin cards then despite being in its first week and few outlets seem to have properly trained their staff as yet. Pretty damn good result I would say for a brand new product. Not actually clear as to why it should be expected to be obviously better than using a pin card as they are using the same base technology. Where it beats it is in security which isn’t seen till it goes wrong and overall convenience of not having to flit around looking for the appropriate card which is the biggest annoyance of all to me. Potentially being able to instantly keep a record of all outlays will become the greatest boon I think. No anyone who thinks there is little or no advantage over dumb cards is being exceptionally dumb also, as time will prove more than any words of mine can to the perennially unreceptive.

  2. Speed isn’t the advantage, although it may be speedier.

    The real advantages are:
    Not having to worry about forgetting or losing your wallet/cards.

    Not having to carry around your wallet in addition to your phone.

    Not having to provide the merchant with your card info or personal information.

    Not having to worry that your personal purchase information will be sold to 3rd parties.

    Not having to worry that your financial information will be sold to credit thieves.

    Some of the “convenience” is ruined by other issues at the merchant. From where I’ve been, Walgreens was the worst offender but those issues would otherwise still be present… Do you want cash back? Do you want to give to charity? Now enter your PIN for no good reason.

    Or Chevron stations where you still need to go inside to pay instead of having the NFC terminals at the pumps.

    All of this will be worked out soon enough. I’m still loving Apple Pay and look forward to using it more.

    Don’t forget to provide feedback to merchants who aren’t using Apple Pay!

    1. If your wallet contains only your credit cards, you are an odd individual.

      The merchant still has access to your purchase info if you use a discount/rewards card of any sort, and the majority of credit card transactions these days are self-swipe already, so there’s little risk of the clerk swiping you.

      Also your creditor has your purchase history, and they sell it just like everyone else. Check your fine print.

      1. If your wallet contains only your credit cards, you are an odd individual.
        My wallet contains very few need-to-have things, most of what it contains is already obsolete… business cards, stamps. Even my insurance cards are on my phone and part of apps. I’ll still keep my wallet, but I won’t panic if I left it at home and may choose to leave it behind more often (like going to the beach).

        “The merchant still has access to your purchase info if you use a discount/rewards card of any sort”
        Right, but you can choose not to use those. Based on the relationship with the store you may choose to use some and not others. Also, often those cards can be anonymized. For example some of those cards are useful only for general discounts (as opposed to “building points”), so sign up and put fake information, and flip them. Even the point building ones, if you decide to use them, can be used with fake information, it just wouldn’t make sense to flip them.

        “Also your creditor has your purchase history, and they sell it just like everyone else. Check your fine print.”
        Nope. They have a transaction record, but not an itemization. I don’t mind so much that Visa knows that I shopped at Walgreens (and sold that data), I would mind that Walgreens sold information about exactly what I’ve purchased throughout my lifetime.

        1. Thanks I thought I had woken up in the nineties for a moment. If you use a loyalty card that is entirely your own decision and you use it knowing whatever benefit you gain is at a price of surrendering information, that has nothing to do with Apple Pay. As for my wallet I agree it really only contains my cards and a bit of cash. The rest you have summed up perfectly and anyone with a clear mind can see the future even if it will take a little while to fully realise.

  3. “Plus, some common things slow it down, like the need for signatures and debit-card PINs in some stores”

    What? What need for signatures and debit-card PINs?

    1. I’ve been surprised to hear this, too. I am hopeful this can be worked out (maybe by Apple) so that it won’t be needed in the future.

      Well, on the other hand, if both fingerprint AND pins are used, it might be extra security for debit accounts.

      The thing is that, as I understand it, Apple plans to roll this out even down to the iPhone 5. That phone has no fingerprint ID available – unless Apple plans on using a fingerprint via some new connected app. If no fingerprint is needed, I can still go with using a pin. Maybe this part of it might still be a work-in-progress. We’ll see after it’s been going for a while.

      Signatures are pretty much worthless today even for the very rare times a clerk actually checks the card to compare them. And those “cool” card users who write in the space to “ask for ID” probably rarely see that happen. It does. It’s just rare.

  4. I have Apple Pay linked to my debit card. Just bought some trash bags at Walgreens and blew the cashier’s mind. She was like, “Seriously??? Did you just pay with your phone??” The Walgreens terminal did make me enter my debit PIN though. Then I went to Panera Bread, paid with my phone, and the terminal didn’t make me enter my PIN.

    1. Is every Walgreens cashier seriously getting their mind blown by this thing? I have to wonder if they were just instructed to act extra surprised every time someone uses Apple Pay, as part of some strategy to make iPhone owners feel extra special and want to shop Walgreens more.

  5. My mom used Apple Pay to buy an iPad Air case yesterday at an Apple Store. The guy told her she was the first to use it. She did have to sign, though. Not sure if it was for the case purchase or because she was picking up my iPad Air 2 (which I pre-paid for with Apple Pay).

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