Apple Pay Is Not Selling Itself

I can’t remember the last time I used Apple Pay. After a few test runs at Panera’s, Whole Foods and Walgreens, the functionality was easily forgotten. After some iOS updates, my authorized credit cards seemed to fall out of Passbook by themselves, and I never bothered to reauthorize them.

Apparently I am not alone. According to rolling surveys from, in the last quarter the share of Apple-Pay-eligible iPhone owners that had tried the service declined from 15.1% in Q1 to 13.1%. Of course some of that decline is explained by the expanding base. As more and more iPhone 6 units hit the market, the pool of early adopters becomes less a share of owners.

Still, the underlying numbers are not good. When Apple Pay users were asked in the survey “Did you use Apple Pay on this transaction?” only 23% said yes, compared to 30.3% last quarter.

Even more troubling for the mobile payments model is someone like me, who has tried Apple Pay but lost interest. Among those reusing Apple Pay, the survey found a sharp decline in those saying they were using the system now (from 48% to 33%).

There is nothing entirely shocking about these numbers, unless anyone thought that by sheer force of Apple’s brand appeal people would change their behavior patterns for no earthly reason other than to make Apple happy. Apple Pay is nothing more than an NFC payment method with no other discernible value. There is also an online payment component to the platform, but that aspect doesn’t seem to have been measured here.

The only real surprise here is that mobile payments, even from Apple, continue to ignore what everyone has known about this model for nearly a decade now. An alternate retail payments system will not sell itself by itself. Unless it is tied to some other value proposition (savings, loyalty, etc.) it is a solution without a problem.

But this is no great insight. I started reporting on NFC payment systems back in 2007. And even then, hardware and infrastructure companies told me that the biggest hurdle was not technical -- it was that consumers just didn’t see the point. I have heard this same refrain repeated for years by the very companies that launch new mobile payment systems that are nothing more than credit cards on a phone.

All of this seems to give the lie to our living in a so-called “consumer-centric” marketing environment. Really? An entire mobile payments infrastructure has been built (at least thus far) on the premise that consumers are stupid enough to change their behaviors for the sole benefit of tech and credit card companies.

3 comments about "Apple Pay Is Not Selling Itself".
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  1. Mai Kok from So What, August 10, 2015 at 11:57 a.m.

    Apple polishers continue to think everything is awesome with AAPL when intrinsically a 3rd grader can tell you that is not the case.

    AAPL vs. Uber - Uber gets more "positive" valuations vs. Apple. Apple's iphone 6 was a dud and lambasted as Google Nexxus 2-3 years later. Apple Watch is a dud. Now they are desperate to sell it via Best Buy - what? not enough love in their oh-so-great Apple stores? Apple hopes they can win the Chinese crowd by selling the gold edition. But western-white-gay-man-Tim-Cook is too dumb to know that the Chinese market doesn't care for 18K - they demand 24K .9999 pure. Why do I note western-white-gay-man? Because only a westerner (aka white man) is that dumb to think the Chinese are DESPERATE to buy Apple products - a product THEY make and export to the West. Why would they import it at a premium that Apple wants? And only a western white man's hubris of his own self-importance, gay or not, would make him believe this would work. And of course, Xiaomi just officially announced they kicked Apple's butt - but really, if Xiaomi just announced that, it's been a FACT for at least 3 quarters aka 9 months.

    What else has been an Apple dud? iAd and of course, Apple Pay.

    Apple was a only a "disruptor" because of Steve Jobs. Now that he's DEAD, Apple is dead. Tim Cook is not visiionary, not revolutionary - he's just a rich white man. And no his gayness doesn't help him because it's irrelevant.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, August 10, 2015 at 2:04 p.m.

    Mai Kok your view on Apple is very China Communistic.

    Congrats on Freedom of Speech here because I would never be allowed to speak in Beijing.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 10, 2015 at 2:08 p.m.

    Leonard, MK sounds very linear to me.

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