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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 27, 2015 • Issue 15:04:02

The Mobile Buzz:
Apple Pay progress report

Since the debut of Apple Pay in October 2014, analysts have kept a watchful eye on this promising entrant in the mobile contactless payments field. Four months after the launch, consumer adoption of Apple Pay has reached 11 percent of cardholder households and 66 percent of iPhone 6 owners, according to research conducted by Phoenix Marketing International.

Phoenix revealed that during the first four months, 82 percent of early adopters had linked credit cards to Apple Pay, 53 percent debit cards and 20 percent general purpose reloadable prepaid cards. Entering month five, 31 percent of iPhone 6 owners who signed up for Apple Pay still had not attempted to link a card, and 3 percent who had made an attempt failed in the process, leaving room for more users to link cards in the future.

Moving to the next stage in Apple Pay mobile commerce, 88 percent of consumers who set up an Apple mobile wallet within the first four months of launch went on to make in-store or in-app purchases, raising the conversion rate for a new mobile wallet scheme above 50 percent for the first time, according to analysts.

Undercut by issues at stores

Like preceding mobile wallet launches, Apple Pay faces hurdles. "The early-on transaction potential is being undercut by low repeat usage and lost payment opportunities," said Greg Weed, Director of Card Research at Phoenix. He noted, however, that the demand is there.

Weed said that of the 59 percent of respondents who had entered stores to make purchases with Apple Pay, 47 percent reported the merchants either did not accept or were not yet ready to accept Apple Pay, even though Apple had listed those establishments as Apple Pay merchants. This means retailers have some catching up to do in order to meet consumer demand.

Other kinks in the mobile shopping experience must be addressed as well. "Even though Apple Pay users generally give the scheme high marks, and 23 percent expect to significantly increase use over the next three months, problems at checkout are downgrading transaction potential," said Leon Majors, Senior Vice President at Phoenix.

Sadly, two-thirds of Apple Pay users have reported a problem at checkout – mostly related to terminals not working or taking too long to make the transaction, inaccurate posting of transactions, and the inability of cashiers to help buyers who needed assistance in using Apple Pay, Majors added.

Top Apple Pay user problems encountered at the POS:

  • Terminal took too much time to record the transaction 48%
  • Cashier unfamiliar with Apple Pay and unable to assist 42%
  • Transaction either posted incorrectly or double posted 36%
  • Apple Pay terminal did not function properly 27%
  • Card selection in Apple Passbook inconvenient at POS 23%
  • Customer lack of familiarity required too much time 14%

Seeing light at end of tunnel

Over time, Apple, alongside other mobile wallet contenders, will share responsibility in reshaping spending trends and buying behaviors as consumers further engage by interacting directly and in real time with their preferred brands and the merchants who offer those brands, thus creating truly seamless shopping experiences, the study indicated.

Meanwhile, there is a prevailing cloud of confusion that must be cleared. "Since Apple Pay is still in an introductory mode and the NFC [near field communication] acceptance network still has a long way to go, adding a continuously updated 'local store directory' to the [Apple] Passbook app is a necessary, short-term product improvement," said Weed, noting that posting a list of participating retailers on a website is not enough at this point.

"In the last four months, 48 percent of users have paid with Apple Pay just one time," he said. To eliminate friction and gain further traction in the fledgling mobile wallet market, education on all fronts will be necessary to bridge gaps between consumer expectations and merchants' ability to deliver on them.

The Phoenix report, Apple Pay: The First Four Months is part of an ongoing Apple Pay study. In 2015, Phoenix plans to complete a total of 16,000 consumer surveys that monitor Apple Pay and new or revamped mobile wallets scheduled to enter the market this year. For more information, please visit www.phoenixmi.com/applepay. end of article

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