Apple Pay’s frequency of usage is putrid

“Working with our partner, InfoScout, we fielded our latest quarterly consumer study of Apple Pay adoption and usage in early June and just completed our analysis,” Karen Webster writes for “We now have observations every quarter since the launch of Apple Pay.”

Adoption: The number of people who’ve tried the service once has tripled since launch. But, that has less to do with massive waves of enthusiasm for the service and more to do with it simply being made more broadly available and people having had more time to try, so it makes sense that more people are giving it a whirl. But adoption has also plateaued over the last two quarters, which is a bit concerning.

Frequency of Usage: The percent of people who use the service more than once has fallen from its peak a year ago, and is now sharply lower than what had been seen at launch. After you take into account both who has adopted the service, and how often people who have adopted it use it, the numbers have barely moved over 20 months: roughly speaking, only one person in 20 who have the service use it when they can, 19 out of 20 people who have the service don’t even bother.

Consumer Feedback: Some users love it but many say that they don’t use the service because they have — and use — alternatives that they say they consider just as easy and convenient to use. The general sentiment is more like “why bother changing” or “I like what I’m already using better.” Preference over the existing standard has yet to be established – pretty essential to getting widespread adoption and use.

Win-back Potential: Over the last 20 months, the fraction of people who say they rarely consider using it again has increased by 50 percent and now represents a third of those who’ve tried and used the product.

“It’s not about paying, which was Apple Pay’s focus then, and is still now,” Webster writes. “Adding value to merchants and consumers has to be about making that digital payments credentials smarter and more valuable. That, I believe, in-store will have very little to do with NFC in the U.S. and a lot more about how those credentials can be activated before the consumer even thinks about ‘checking out.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote nearly one year ago to the day:

Apple, give us a reason to use Apple Pay beyond looking like tech dorks in front of the line at the register. What’s the incentive to use Apple Pay? There is none besides looking like a flaming nerd. As if Apple doesn’t have any money. That, inexplicably, is how they approach Apple Pay. Hello, Tim? Eddy? Talk to some people who actually go to stores and shop for things, please.

Incentivize its use! Give Apple Pay users a percentage of every dollar spent via Apple Pay to spend at Apple Stores. Something. Anything! Get people used to using it first. Sheesh. It’s really not that difficult. It really isn’t.

And, BTW: That was written before Apple Watch made the process so seamless that nobody in line (or the cashier, half the time) even notices how or that we paid, but we still think Apple should take some of tiny portion of their cash mountain and put it to good use incentivizing (and training) their customers to use Apple Pay.

Apple Pay and wannabes must offer perks to grow – December 14, 2015
Starbucks, KFC, and Chili’s to accept Apple Pay this year – October 8, 2015
Barclays to bring Apple Pay to the UK in early 2016 – October 7, 2015
Some Best Buy stores are now accepting Apple Pay – September 18, 2015
MCX CEO gone a day after Apple Pay lands Best Buy – April 28, 2015
Best Buy capitulates, to accept Apple Pay despite CurrentC allegiance – April 27, 2015
Major retailers see Apple Pay wave – November 17, 2014
In only 3 weeks, Apple Pay is changing how consumers pay – November 17, 2014
Boycott CVS and Rite Aid – October 27, 2014
Bad business: CVS and Rite Aid antagonize their most well-heeled customers by blocking Apple Pay – October 27, 2014
CVS stores reportedly disabling NFC to shut down Apple Pay – October 25, 2014
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Apple’s iOS dominates in richer countries, Android in poorer regions – March 25, 2014
Twitter heat map shows iPhone use by the affluent, Android by the poor – June 20, 2013


  1. I have tried and tried. Two issues.
    One, I have never been able to complete an Apple Pay transaction from my watch, but many times I have on my phone. My issue is that it’s a coin toss on who accepts it and who doesn’t. I use it almost ever time I’m at Whole Foods because I know they accept it.
    Two, after having to do a restore, it is a total pain in the ass to re-approve all of my cards on Apple Pay. Some like Amex and Chase are pretty easy, but other’s like my checking debit card (that I use the most) require I call into the customer help line and sit on hold for 20 minutes to authorize the card. That puts Apple Pay at a huge net time loss compared to just swiping. Also, this last time I called in they “approved” the authorization, but my phone didn’t get it. So I have to call again. Just not going to do it.

      1. You need to do a restore when you get your new phone. However, I have not experience needing to have my cards re-approved after an upgrade. Everything carriers forward. You do need to recreate your Touch ID finger prints but that is all.

  2. The problem isn’t Apple it is the retailers lack of information – Just last week I went to several stores and asked to use Apple Pay and they didn’t even know what it was – I was able to use it at almost every place I went but the people in the store were dumbfounded. Very little advertising at the checkout as well – Reminds me of the first years of American Express – You had to ask if they took it and sometimes they didn’t know.

    I do love using Apple Pay!

      1. iPod = revolutionary, starting slow and building momentum. Jobsesque

        Apple Pay: small step deployed on large scale to a product that Jobs introduced years before. Typical Cook implementation: slow and poorly communicated.

        Let me repeat that again. iPod growth rate is not even comparable to Apple Pay because when iPods were rolled out they were all-new hardware mated with user-installed software for Macs only, using FireWire 400 as the connector. It allowed music lovers a way to organize their music collections. It was groundbreaking, the performance was unparalleled, and it changed the way people thought about and listened to music — and above all, it just worked. Everywhere, all the time, just as the user commanded.

        Apple Pay, on the other hand, adds a feature (basically an improved version of Google Wallet) to a population of millions of iPhones that are already deployed, at a time when NFC is mature and the payment security needs of banks has already signaled the overdue impending death of magnetic stripe cards. No big technological effort and no risk taking. But much of the time, it DOESN’T WORK. Some store employees have no idea what it is or how it works. Chip & Pin is often just as fast, and the security advantages of Apple Pay are not communicated. So with a few bad experiences, many consumers just give up. They can’t realistically leave their credit cards at home. They aren’t seriously going to change their buying habits to support a payment system that isn’t providing them a clear benefit everywhere they go.

        The biggest problem seems to be that Apple and its primary customers (banks and credit card issuers) don’t seem able or interested to educate users and merchants — especially small merchants who are already penalized by high financial transaction fees. They have absolutely no incentive to support Apple Pay if it costs more.

    1. Arguably, it is Apple’s failing that retailers are lacking information. Apple built this really great solution but has not put people in the field to help retailers get on board. Apple does this lot. The don’t “finish”. Apple, when you go all in on a product such as Apple Pay, you’ve got to see it all the way through. It’s up to you to get both retailers and users make this more than a pilot program. Where there is Apple Pay in my world it is great. But Apple Pay exists at maybe 5% of the places that I transact a payment. Get out there and hustle, Apple. It is not up to us, your customers, to evangelize this for you.

    2. I believe that the problem is also a consumer lack of information. Consumers are worried about fraud and Apple should use advertising to emphasize the protection provided by Apple Pay.

      In addition, credit card companies should appreciate both the security of Apple Pay (reduced losses due to fraud) as well as the fact that Apple Pay helps them to maintain the use of credit cards in the face of competition by other electronic payment systems. Credit card transaction fees are a huge cash cow and credit card companies should be pushing Apple Pay like crazy to its customers and retailers.

  3. Other systems that are more conveniant? Like what?
    Apple pay is as easy as anything gets..

    Looking like a nerd?
    Humm.. I use apple pay through my applewatch… It is sweet…
    Not only it brings a smile to my face everytime i use it..’it makes the cashiers and people in line smile as well.. They love it..
    And always make a positive comment .

    1. Take your card out, put it against the terminal and wait for the bleep. “No need to print the customer receipt, thanks”. If the payment amount is over $100, plug the card in and enter your PIN. The extra step with ApplePay is you have to press the home button and wait for it to recognise your fingerprint. My bank requires my PIN with ApplePay if over $100. Over $100 without PIN would have been the only advantage of ApplePay. I’ve never seen anyone else pay with their phone.

      1. Is that the process you have to go through?
        Not me here in LA area …
        Just hold applewatch on the NFC reader.. .. I get a beep and a taptic feedback on watch and im done..
        No wallet.. No card.. No cash handling ..
        At max at some merchants i have to sign on the nfc device too

          1. Where is around there?

            I have never even heard a comment remotely close to what you are saying.

            If anything i have seen a big attiude change towards the AppleWatch design and estetics…
            And i see so many more of them … Everywhere i go.

    2. I hope Apple Pay gains a foothold for online transactions.

      However, for in-person purchases, the most convenient and widely accepted payment system remains cash. Long may it remain so … but please stop minting pennies and paper dollar bills. Pennies are not worth the materials they are made of and dollar bills cost a fortune to reprint because of wear and tear. Mint coins that can stay in circulation for decades, instead of a year or two like cloth/paper bills do!

      1. I use notes and coins as my preferred way of paying for stuff in shops here in Europe, but it’s much less practical when I visit the US because the prices displayed do not include sales tax as they are required to do in Europe. Therefore you pick up several things that add up to $22, but there’s no point in getting $22 out of your pocket because the price might turn out to be $23.54.

        I’ve often suspected that the reason why credit cards are used instead of cash almost universally in the US is down to the way that sales tax is subsequently added to the displayed prices at the check out.

    3. Here is what is much more convenient. Pull out wallet, insert card in reader, remove card. Done.

      Apple Pay doesn’t even work for me since I have rough fingers and the home button looses track (becomes un usable) after a short time that I redo my prints.

      But let’s say Apple Pay “did” work OK. Go back to my original example. Pull iPhone from holster. Double tap the home key. Tap on credit card. Point directly at reader (“hold it right here, she says”). I forget what you do next, because mine never works. This process is more convoluted and more time consuming that the credit card routine above.

      I have no objection to AP, it just won’t work for me, and was more hassle the onetime it did.

      1. With me, it is completely the opposite, and I use ApplePay literally every day.

        Old school:

        1. Find wallet; pull wallet out of the pocket (which usually requires unbuttoning a button; this is New York City, after all);
        2. Sift through wallet, pick a card (or, if you have a “default” — preferred — card, pull it out);
        3. Look at the terminal; is id old school (swipe only), or new (insert chip); swipe / insert card; wait;
        4. Transaction accepted; put back card in wallet;
        5. Put wallet back in pocket (button pocket).

        Apple Pay:

        1. Pull phone out of pocket (possibly unbutton the pocket, but more often not, as most people have it in front jacket pocket, rather than back pant pocket);
        2. Touch terminal wile touching TouchID.
        3. Put phone back in the pocket.

        Notice how the old-school method required two hands for the steps 2 through 4 (one holds the wallet, the other holds the card), while ApplePay method leaves the other hand free for other activities (holding a toddler’s hand, holding a grocery bag, or whatever). Notice also how the five-step process is much longer than the three-step process.

        There is no doubt; after having used ApplePay for almost a year, the time I had saved between old-school and ApplePay comes up to approximately half an hour (five seconds per day, for a year). Obviously not all that much, but that half hour is the time of my life I would have wasted on a slower method of payment.

    4. Here is what is much more convenient. Pull out wallet, insert card in reader, remove card. Done.

      Apple Pay doesn’t even work for me since I have rough fingers and the home button looses track (becomes un usable) after a short time that I redo my prints.

      But let’s say Apple Pay “did” work OK. Go back to my original example. Pull iPhone from holster. Double tap the home key. Tap on credit card. Point directly at reader (“hold it right here, she says”). I forget what you do next, because mine never works. This process is more convoluted and more time consuming that the credit card routine above.

      I have no objection to AP, it just won’t work for me, and was more hassle the onetime it did.

      I don’t have an AW, so I can’t compare with that.

  4. It bothers me that the NFC feature can only be used for Apple Pay. I’d love the ability to use my phone to open doors at the office, validate my ticket on the train or collect my print jobs.

  5. I use Apple Pay whenever possible. Micro Center, Cub Foods, Lunds & Byerly’s, SuperAmerica, Coborn’s, many of the places I shop at use it. Even some vending machines take it, now.

    But, the VeriFone equipment that is used to accept Apple Pay doesn’t always work. Holiday gas stations have the equipment to accept Apple Pay, but it doesn’t work. Transaction ends up declined. But, Android Pay works. Why one and not the other? What’s holding them up?

    I want to get to a point where I can shop ANYWHERE and use NFC payments, and never have to carry a card again.

    1. Apple pay would be the single greatest thing ever…if retailers would ever get around to adopting it. I LOVE Apple Pay (can’t stress enough), but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack that anyone anywhere uses it at stores. That is where Apple must spend their time and energy gaining acceptance….short of that, it will die on the vine and a major opportunity to simplify shopping will be lost.

      1. Apple Pay’s frequency of usage is putrid

        If Apple Pay’s frequency of usage is putrid, than what does that say about the competition? Apple Pay usage market share is about 60% of mobile transactions, even though Android handsets vastly outnumber iPhones.

        The strike against Apple Pay (or any mobile pay system) are merchant implementation (it requires back room data support in addition to equipment that works and employee awareness), and State laws requiring confirmation (PIN and/or signature) on transactions as low as $20.

        Its going to take another couple of years to get merchants onboard and improve employee/consumer awareness to the point that mobile pay is routine.

  6. Having to sign after using ApplePay doesn’t save any time, but I do it as a matter of principle to promote up-to-date, more secure, technology. Europe has been using contactless payments for decades! Americans (and Europeans) do not like to change and will only do so when forced.

  7. Must be an American thing, down here in Australia I haven’t used any other method since my bank came on board and I see it being used everywhere.
    Haven’t had a strange look for quite some time so I assume everyone is used to it know, although a bit less so when I use my  Watch to pay.
    Then again NFC terminals are in over 80% of locations now so it’s no big deal.

  8. I think Apple Pay will make its mark online, in particular with Apple Pay for Safari launching with iOS10.

    At the POS there is less time/effort savings – but that is not true on the web. For straight forward purchases a 1-touch buy from a Product page is awesome and just what mobile commerce needs to close the conversion gap with desktop shopping.

  9. I use Apple Pay just for the increased security. And I use it everywhere that accepts it.

    I’m just upset that several big retailers refuse to accept it. I forcefully tell them that the day one of their close competitors starts taking Apple Pay they’ll never see me in their store again. I hope they are passing customer feedback up the chain to the corporate idiots.

    Amazingly enough a Subway inside a local Walmart accepts Apple Pay, but Walmart doesn’t. I sold all my Walmart stock and bought more Apple stock shortly after Apple Pay was released. And I tell every Walmart management person I see that I did so. Unfortunately Walmart is a 2 mile drive for me but their nearest competitor is 12 miles away.

  10. I use Apple Pay nearly every day. My phone is easier to get out of my pocket than my wallet and the transaction itself is faster with Apple Pay than with a credit card (mine are all chipped now, which is slower than a swipe). For a couple of stores, my rewards card pops up first, so no more fumbling for that card or typing in a number first.

    It is so quick and painless that the check out person usually does not even know I did it. MDN’s looking like a “tech nerd” has never even occurred to me since EVERYBODY HAS A SMART PHONE NOW.

    1. At Yoke’s Supermarket in Spokane, WS I have paid using Apple Paqy before my purchase has been completely rung up, but then when it goes over $100 I have to electronically “sign” as a “security” step (State law).

      When governments and merchants finally get their mobile pay act together Apple Pay usage will skyrocket.

  11. Who is responsible for educating the retailer about his POS hardware? Reason I ask this, I made a shoe purchase at a very small local shop and when ready to pay, I asked the owner if he accepted Apple Pay. He really didn’t know but I noticed the terminal in front of me looked like it could handle NFC transactions. I then pulled out the phone and to the shop owners surprise it worked!! I was his first Apple Pay customer. So isn’t the bigger question, who informs the retailer what his payment terminal will support? I see this issue more about education on the retail front. The store owner/manager need to ask questions. I’d start with the banking institution or whoever provides the credit card terminals. I use Apple Pay as often as I can and love it!!

  12. If there ever was a time for an ApplePay “winback” strategy, it’s now, because the transition to chip readers (vs swiping) in credit/debit cards has confused and slowed the non-ApplePay transaction process.

    1. I agree. I am an American living in Europe and I live in a country that doesn’t even have ApplePay but It works pretty much everywhere with my US credit card as contactless terminals are everywhere. Being home for the summer it boggles my mind how backwards things are. Signing credit card slips is so 20th century and I just about laughed yesterday when I was asked to sign a credit card slip after using ApplePay. Wtf. The problem is not with ApplePay itself, it couldn’t be easier to use, it is the fact that contactless terminals are not widespread enough. No merchant “accepts” or “refuses” ApplePay in Europe, it works by default wherever a contactless terminal is installed. That is the the world where ApplePay works to perfection.

      1. As a Canadian, I can say that ApplePay works seamlessly here everlywhere. And no one is surprised to see it in action. We’ve only had ApplePay since June but it has worked flawlessly since day one. Here, it’s our banks that are promoting it heavily.

        1. It was only Tuesday that my main card was finally supported in Canada (PC Financial), before that I was using another one for Apple Pay but only for very small transactions because it didn’t give any benefits for using it. Now that my main card works, I’ll be using Apple Pay a lot.

  13. The problem for me is that 80% of stores don’t accept it, and even the ones that “do” (with Apple Pay logos on their machines) sometimes just don’t work, and do crazy things like asking for PINs and refusing to process the transaction. Maybe if it wasn’t a completely worthless, inconsistent and undependable payment method, people would actually use it. I have tickets open with Apple, but I feel like even that won’t help. Thinking about just switching to cash. Guess I’ll have to buy gloves.

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