What’s wrong with Apple Pay?

“According to those who track such things, actual Apple Pay usage on a per user basis has fallen, despite a few hundred million Apple devices which can use the system, and adoption by retailers seems to have slowed as well,” Dave Farrington writes for NoodleMac. “What’s going on? Why isn’t Apple Pay being used more by those who have it installed, setup, tried it, and like it?”

“We’re still in the early days of Apple Pay and anyone who expected massive overnight adoption does not understand much about technology, systems, or human beings. It took years for the iPhone and iPod to become hit products,” Farrington writes. “People are creatures of habit so getting us to change our daily procedures and methods remains a challenge not only for Apple, but for retailers.”

“Apple has the wherewithal– financial and customer base- to provide an incentive for customers to use Apple Play more frequently, and definitely needs an incentive to get retailers to adopt Apple Pay to help avoid the problem with ‘chicken and egg’ syndrome,” Farrington writes. “Points? Rebates? Credit for iTunes? Whatever Apple comes up with, whether in concert with credit cards and banks, or retailers, needs to be designed to help me decide to use Apple Pay more frequently. Credit card banks do this all the time with mileage and rebates. They are incentives to use a specific car a specific way. Apple Pay needs the same thing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Imagine at the special media event to introduce the next-gen iPhone next month, Apple CEO Tim Cook says something like this:

And, of course, the new iPhone works with Apple Pay and, starting today, for every $100 you spend using Apple Pay, you get $1 off at Apple retail and online stores. So, spend $100 on groceries using Apple Pay, you get $1. Spend $300 on a plane ticket using the Delta app, you get $3. Use Apple Pay in your ExxonMobil Speedpass+ app to buy your gas. It all adds up! By the end of the year, you’ll likely have quite a discount on your next iPad, Mac, or iPhone!

Would you use Apple Pay more if Tim Cook said something like that? We know we certainly would.

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’s frequency of usage is putrid – August 3, 2016
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. Here in Canada we got it about a year later than the US because of our stupid banks. Now it is everywhere!!!!

      I don’t even ASK if they use Apple pay. All I say is, “TAP please”. Then just tap it with my watch or phone.

      Now I have harder time finding some one who does NOT accept it than someone who does. The US must be even better….right?

      1. Restaurants even in Canada still typically don’t allow tap, or if they do I don’t know it’s an option because the tap option comes up long after I or the server have already inserted my chip card into the machine.

        I have no idea why the tip option only seems to come up *after* checking that a card is in, since you still need to enter the PIN *after* entering the tip. Maybe it’s just how the servers are trained and we don’t actually need to insert the card first.

      2. Almost every place I go takes tapping in Canada so I have my phone out right away too. Oddly Canada has long been ahead of US when it comes to debit payments. I remember 15 years I was shocked how few places in US even had them yet.

    2. Also the places that do accept it, like supermarkets car washes and many retailers, insist on making you sign the printout.. They say their vendors make them do that and they don’t unnderstand it because they are just following instructions…

      Many retailers get their NFC terminals from vending terminal machine companies, who apparently require vendors to get signatures, which negates the entire convenience of Apple Pay.

      Apple needs to get on this stupid phenomenon immediately.


  1. Honestly what does everybody expect? Apple is never going to be making fortunes from it other than the pure volume might add up to something. Ultimately people aren’t likely to be spending any more or less than they were before, we weren’t not spending money because credit cards were complicated or anything.

      1. They’re not making 30% on each transaction though are they? They never will make such margins. It’s going to be fractions of a percent. That might all add up, but it’s not going to be a high margin money earner. I’m a fan of Apple Pay, but it’s just another service to make the Apple ecosystem more attractive. If it pays for itself that’s a success.

  2. I’ve found very few places where the employees both know Apple Pay is accepted AND how it actually works. It shouldn’t be up to informed customers to train a store’s employees how their payment system works and that is where the bottleneck is. Apple would be wise to work with retailers to better train their staffs, provide MUCH better signage and all around awareness for Apple Pay. I don’t need cash back or other incentives, I just want Apple Pay to be ubiquitous for it to become my main source of payment.

  3. I think people are missing the biggest thing “wrong” with Apple Pay. It is not lack of ease of use, it is not looking like a nerd, it is simply that Apple Pay is not accepted everywhere the vast majority of people shop.

    I shop for groceries at Publix, no Apple Pay. I shop a lot at Target, no Apple Pay. I shop a lot at Costco, no Apple Pay. I begrudgingly go to Walmart when it is most convenient for me, no Apple Pay (and yes Walmart Pay is a turd).

    The places I do shop where Apple Pay is accepted, I only use it. For example, I go to Walgreens for my pharmacy needs and have not used a credit or debit card there since they began using Apple Pay. I don’t even take my wallet in there.

    So when it becomes more widely accepted at the most common places I shop, I will use it exclusively!

    1. Costco in Canada takes Apple Pay in the store but not at the Gas Pump, even though they take tap at the pump.
      I use Apple Pay almost all the time and I try to use it all the time. My biggest issue is when I do use it I still have to take out my wallet to get my loyalty club (IE Air Miles) points this could be fixed.

  4. I USE ApplePay wherever it is accepted: Trader Joes, Albertson’s Super Market, Super King Super Market and Staples.

    However, I still CANNOT use it at Costco or the other large Super Market in my area, Vons.

  5. Change like this takes time. Just because the technology works doesn’t mean people and businesses are going to move to adopt it immediately. The whole system has to change and that takes a long time. (Look up Cultural Lag Theory)

    Now, having said that, I would like to note that the fingerprint recognition system on my iPhone SE doesn’t work. It works for about a day or two after I set it and then it stops recognizing my prints a few days later. I put in both thumb prints and both index fingers and after about two days it stops recognizing them. I’ve repeated the process of entering new prints three or four times. The phone is in a clean environment and my fingers are always clean and grease free. I’ve given up on this, hoping that it will work on my next iPhone. My wife’s 6s just started having the same problem after having worked flawlessly for her for about three or four months.

    It’s little things like this that slow down the adoption of new ways of paying for things. Do I really want to try Apple Pay at my local McDonalds and end up looking like a goofball who doesn’t know how his phone works when it’s nearly as easy just using my debt card, and a whole lot less likely to invite the stares and derision of the people standing behind you in line?

    I’m going to wait for my next iPhone before giving Apple Pay a real go. Same with Siri. I want both technologies and think they are cool, but I’m going to hold off using them on a regular basis for another 6-12 months.

  6. People don’t use it because it’s improperly implemented in most places that claim to accept it. It’s supposed to be “beep” and go, but many businesses use it merely as a card reader and still require a signature or a PIN number entry. The only business I’ve encountered that implements Apple Pay the way Apple intended it is McDonalds.

  7. Purely a US centric issue; nothing has changed in the US for many decades when it comes to payment infrastructure, which is still woefully behind the rest of the developed world.

    Pay is going great elsewhere, where retailers have point of sale contactless terminals for many years and Pay just happens along with other contactless cards. The BIG DIFFERENCE is that Pay offers much better security with Touch ID!!

  8. My issue is that I always have to enter some kind of code or such for Apple Pay to work on my phone. That pisses me off to no end. The idea is that authentication should be discrete so nobody can jot down what I am typing.

  9. Re MDN take: You guys may insist on getting paid to use a more secure payment method that swiping a card. I don’t care whether or not Apple starts giving users incentives for using Apple Pay.

    I want to see incentives for RETAILERS TO ACCEPT Apple Pay! For any category of store, if one accepts Apple Pay it gets ALL my business in that category. But there are no big box or home building stores that accept Apple Pay, so I can’t use it more when I need to shop for things they sell.

    For me, the only way to get me to use Apple Pay more is to make more retailers accept it, because I use nothing but Apple Pay at any place which accepts it.

    Come on Apple, apply some pain to stores which refuse to accept Apple Pay. If a store such as Costco refuses to accept Apple Pay, they shouldn’t be allowed to profit from selling Apple products! Or give a discount for a defined period of time to any chain which starts accepting Apple Pay.

    I’ll help with my dollars if you just get one retailer in each of these big categories to accept Apple Pay.

  10. I live in Canada and use Apple Pay wherever I can, not just for the geek factor, but I don’t have to take out my wallet, then take out a card, etc, etc. I don’t need incentive to use it; its own existence is incentive enough!

  11. It is truly interesting how small businesses have been adopting it quite rapidly. in New York City, many small coffee shops, bakeries, pastry or ice cream stores use that cheap payment processing service SquareUp (anyone can sign up and be able to accept credit cards). Their contactless/chip card reader costs $50 (!!), and that is pretty much the only cost you have in order to start accepting credit cards (mag stripe, chip&PIN or ApplePay). And of course, $50 is nothing compared to the benefits of secure payment processing.

    Meanwhile, Walmarts, Targets, Costcos and similar lumber along requiring mag stripe…

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