Is Apple Pay all smoke and no fire

Apple Pay has generated a great deal of buzz and plenty of discussion around mobile payments, especially in the tech industry. However, when you look past the plethora of huffing and puffing from tech sites and bloggers (ourselves included), what is left? When the smoke clears, is Apple Pay actually igniting user adoption of mobile payments? Is Apple Pay all smoke and no fire

One research house has done the investigating, and the answer is: No, not really; or at least not yet. InfoScout carried out a survey of the shopping activity of some 400 iPhone 6 and 6 plus users on Black Friday - no better day for Apple Pay to show what it can really do you would imagine.

Infoscout's survey identified iPhone 6 and 6 plus users who had shopped at stores with Apple Pay enabled on Black Friday. Of the 400 people who visited a store enabled to accept Apple Pay, with their Apple Pay capable phones, on one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year: Just 4.6 per cent used Apple's NFC mobile payments offering. Not exactly grand.

Furthermore, in the five weeks that Apple Pay has been available, only nine per cent of those surveyed have ever even tried it out. Clearly, Apple Pay may have generated a lot of discussion in the tech media and circles, but for the early adopters of Apple's latest product - Apple Pay was not what got them waiting in line.

Infoscout's quite excellent survey also delved into the reasons behind the lack of Apple Pay use. The biggest reason shoppers didn't utilise Apple Pay on Black Friday was uncertainty about which shops facilitated the technology (31 per cent), and the simplest reason was owners forgot they could (25 per cent).

The biggest reasons listed as to why shoppers haven't tried out Apple Pay since its launch were:

  • I am not familiar with how Apple Pay works (32 per cent)
  • I am satisfied with my current payment methods (30 per cent)
  • I am concerned about its security (19 per cent)

What these early numbers tell us is that consumer awareness and education is important and that adoption of mobile payments is going to take time. It is a reminder for us to not get ahead of ourselves. Mobile Payments are still the heir apparent but they need to convince consumers and retailers of their value, convenience and advantages over incumbent dominant means of transactions.

Because for a matter of fact, when shoppers in Infoscout's survey did then try out Apples' mobile payments offering, the response was in the majority positive. Some 73.5 per cent said Apple Pay was easier to use than swiping a card, and 67.6 per cent said Apple Pay improved speed at checkout, security and convenience.

We've speculated in the past that the biggest hurdle mobile payments will have to over come is security concerns, something we feel we can help achieve. But getting consumers to change their payment habits is perhaps just as big a challenge. It appears that shoppers young and old, are actually quite set in their ways, and need a little help to try something new. The good news is that once they give it a go – the new habits catch on fast.

By Matthew Taylor 3rd December 2014

Related stories around the web

Apple Pay's Black Friday, by the numbers - Info Scout

Apple Pay a bust on Black Friday, new data shows - PYMNTS

Apple Pay's missing one thing retailers crave: Data - Mobile Payments Today

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