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. I’ve used Apple Pay several times at McDonald’s drive thru.
    On my end, it’s easy…I just have to have my left thumb on the fingerprint reader placed correctly and also not drop the iPhone.
    However, the employee at McDonald’s has to grab their huge electronic reader and hold it far enough out the window for my iPhone to touch it…all while it is still plugged in. Zero intuitive thought process for McDonald’s. Cumbersome to say the least…it should be more like the scanner at Walmart and Home Depot. Instead, it is a huge device.

  2. For me, I stopped using it because it no longer works at any of the places where it used to work. It keeps asking for a PIN number and stupid stuff like that. I asked Apple about it and they’re clueless and think it may have been an incompatibility introduced by an update to their POS (double meaning for POS, for sure!). Maybe if they actually cared about what they were doing it wouldn’t be so unusable.

    1. This wasn’t Apple’s fault. With the switch to chipped cards some merchants or POS providers have decided to force PIN usage in their POS systems for better security. Apparently the system doesn’t recognize that a chipped card that was loaded into ApplePay should accept that your fingerprint counts as the “PIN” part of a contactless payment. It should get worked out eventually but I also am frustrated that some places now make me put the PIN in on their machine where before ApplyPay just worked. This situation only seems to apply to a combination debit & credit card. I don’t get a PIN request if I use a true credit card.

  3. I use Apple pay on my watch whenever I can – it’s much easier and more secure than getting out the card. Unfortunately, a lot of places still don’t take it. I don’t need incentives to use, just more places that will take it.

    Oddly enough, the only place I ever had trouble with it was an Apple store. My attempt to charge a $2000 purchase to my Chase credit card through Apple Pay was declined, and I had to get out the card to call Chase to get approval. Even with the assurance that it would be approved, the charge was declined again. I also have a Capital One card set up in Apple Pay, so I used that and it went through without a hitch. Other than that experience, I find it much easier than getting out a credit card.

  4. I use my contactless debit and credit cards all the time just as I did before Apple Pay, I don’t bother using the iPhone or Apple Watch except on the London Underground. Where Apple Pay is really is useful is when it’s available in apps. I use Apple Pay for Deliveroo a lot.

  5. I’ve tried to use it a handful of times on the tube and twice it has failed to work. My contactless debit card works fine, I only keep a small credit on it and I don’t like getting my phone out in a busy station. I might get an Apple Watch but I haven’t yet. It may be more secure, but it’s not as if existing solutions are massively slow and inconvenient with people crying out for an alternative. People haven’t not been using cards because of problems with them. It will take over, but it’s not the sea change that the iPhone was.

  6. It’s a USA thing guys. In most places, there is a standard payment protocol attached to Tap and Pay and as long as the retailer’s terminal isn’t really old you can use Apple Pay and I see it used all the time. I can’t remember the last time I withdrew cash to use, as I use Apple Pay all the time.
    Here in Australia, all new credit and debit cards have come with chips for years and over 80% of terminals are NFC enabled and will grow further as they are replaced due to age. Similar rates apply in Western Europe I believe. The only thing holding it back down here is some banks holding off on participating as they don’t play well with not controlling everything!

  7. The reason why Apple Pay is going so slow is that retailers are not buying equipment to read The data. The reason the big retailers like Walmart and like Home Depot will not honor Apple Pay is because Apple Pay is secure and does not allow tracking, however these big retailers want to track customers and do not want purchases to be secure. This is what they want to do even though The big retailers are losing customar information to hackers. they do not want the information to be secure because they want the information themselves.

  8. I use Apple Pay at Chevron stations inside for purchases but every time theirs of being obsery require my PIN be input. I object every time that it is unnecessary and that inputting it puts my PIN at risk of being observed for no discernible advantage when my fingerprint and single use token instead of an actual credit/debit card number is far more secure than a possible stolen PIrougN being used.

    The other day I went through a drive through at a Stockton CA MacDonalds and attempted to use my Apple Watch to pay, something I have done numerous times before. The clueless clerk tried to use an infrared scanner to read the face of the watch, clicking away fruitlessly while I tried to tell him he needed to put the NFC enabled card unit out the window. He kept insisting the device he had merely had to read the watch face. Finally he agreed to do what I said and put the NFC out, but it wouldn’t read either. So I got my iPhone out and it wouldn’t work either. He called his supervisor who said that they put their BROKEN NFC reader on the drive through and only the ones at the counters were working for ApplePay! i would have to come inside to pay if I still wanted to use Apple Pay! I reluctantly unfastened my safety belt, dug my wallet out, and got out my credit card and handed it to them. Can you spell ‘pissed off?” I can.

  9. I love Apple Pay, unfortunately the amount of places I can use it at that I frequent is under 5 places. My small organic grocery store, Walgreens, McDonalds, “most but not all” Whataburgers (or doesn’t work in drive-thru”, and that’s about it.

    I can’t use it at ANY gas stations in my area, why QuickTrip, Texaco or On the Run don’t use it is beyond comprehension. Last time I was in Krogers, I couldn’t use it but the guy bagging my groceries thought they were supposedly getting it by the end of the year. Starbucks which has been a LONG TIME Apple supporter forces you to use THEIR app instead of Apple Pay, and of course Walmart uses their own proprietary App which rarely works properly–and generally can’t find a checker who knows how to use/accept it…seriously epic fail there.


  10. When I tried to use the card at my grocery store, they asked me for a number from the app. I had no idea what they meant since I didn’t see any number. Alternately, I could show them the card. Well, that defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it? THEN they wanted to see my ID. So using Apple Pay at the grocery was actually much more complicated than just using my chip card. None of the other grocery stores accept them. And my husband’s credit union doesn’t participate so his credit card won’t work. Apple has a lot of work on their hands to get this right.

  11. The issue is not with Apple Pay it’s with the CC networks that charge higher fees to merchants. It’s also about tracking customer purchases. Walmart essentially wants to be their own bank to avoid higher fees. The Target Red Card for example gives 5% off every purchase, free online shipping and 120 days return and has two options. One option is the regular old CC you need to apply for and the other is a store card with the chip that can be linked only to your checking account shutting out the CC network. Merchants need to save money on transaction fees and that is what is really slowing down the transition to contactless payments. Your either in the network paying higher fees or your not. Hence the tape over the chip slots which I see everywhere. I will say Home Depot is in the network because they actually forced me to use the chip because they know how much MORE it costs a merchant when you get hacked.

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