Commentary

For Many Retailers, Apple Pay Is Far From An Easy Tap

Rumors, which are the lifeblood of Apple PR, are circulating that the Apple Pay mobile payment scheme for iPhone 6 will roll out in coming weeks. One purported leak claims the launch is coming in the first week of November. After radically disrupting the music, movie, TV and Web businesses with digital download and app models, Apple is scrambling things up at checkout now. Or at least they hope to. Don’t be overly impressed by the lineup of banks and credit card companies piling on the Apple Pay bandwagon with support for the contactless payment system. A number of high-profile retailers admit they are either not yet interested or not even close to having the infrastructure support for the technology.  

“While we will not be accepting Apple Pay at this time, we will continue to evaluate it as an option, as well as several other competing platforms,” a Best Buy spokesman told TheDailyDot in its roundup of Apple Pay holdouts. And this comes from one of Apple’s most established retail partners. According to WSJ.com, both Walmart and Best Buy are still behind the alternative retailer consortium, Merchant Customer Exchange, is backward and cross-platform compatible with older iPhones and Android.

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And truth be told, sexy and purportedly secure as Apple has made its payment system, its coverage is severely constrained by the current penetration of its brand spanking new iPhone 6 models and the fact that the massive base of Android users are excluded out of hand.   

Apple claims in its promotions that it will come out of the gate in 220,000 stores, including Macy’s, Disney, McDonald's, and Bloomingdales.

Well, okay -- but that leaves a lot of shopping far outside the loop. The Dot contacted a number of major retail chains, including H&M, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sears/Kmart, Pizza Hut and more to find either a lack of technical support for Apple Pay or even a lack of interest. Gas station chain BP, for instance, says it won’t be in a position to accept these modes of payment probably well into 2016. Chipotle and KFC are among the QSRs that say they are only looking into it and have no timetable.

Which is not to say that retailers need explicit support of Apple Pay. With banks and credit card companies falling in line with Apple, retail support is more contingent on NFC-enabled checkout. Apple is relying in part on regulatory pressure on retailers to switch over to EMV credit card terminals at retail or take on liability for fraudulent activity themselves.

But there are certain forces of nature that even a revived Apple brand cannot overcome -- like the pace of change at point-of-sale. Or cable TV and its bundled channel model. 

1 comment about "For Many Retailers, Apple Pay Is Far From An Easy Tap".
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  1. Phil Motta from Motta, LLC, October 14, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

    All iPhones constitute 41% of the market. The iPhone6 is a small percentage of that. Would retailers install a payment system that wasn't universal for fewer than 4 out of 10 smartphone owner-customers? They'd need an entirely separate system for the other 6 out of 10 (a universal system that the iPhone users could also use, by the way). I don't see the sense behind a separate iPhone-only system.

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