Apple Pay was officially launched in October 20th of last year, which means that the mobile payment system that iPhone maker Apple developed is now turning 1 year old. Apple Pay has certainly gone some ways since it was first introduced by Apple in September 2014, and it is worth taking a pause and review how things are with perhaps the most popular contactless mode of payment right now in the world.
First of all, one can not discount the impact Apple Pay has with regards to the mobile payment systems in general. Not only has Apple’s system become the leading name when it comes to mobile payments, it has also generated buzz for contactless modes of payment in general. Make no mistake about it, Apple Pay is hardly the first one, but it can not be argued that its release has made mobile payments more popular than ever before, even if they have not reached mainstream level yet (more on that later). Also, Apple Pay helped paved the way for newer systems like Samsung Pay and Android Pay.
Another good news is that a year after Apple Pay was launched, the service is now more available than ever. Last year, only 12 percent of iOS users owned handsets that were compatible with the payment system. But with the release of this year’s new iPhone models -- the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6 Plus -- the range of of Apple Pay compatible devices has just become wider.
The number of card issuers supporting Apple Pay has also increased. Apple Pay now has over 400 financial institution partners, and some of these card issuing companies, such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One, are doing free publicity for Apple’s mobile payment system, which can only be a win for Apple Pay.
Despite the positive news, there are undoubtedly still plenty of room for improvement. For one, people are still generally reluctant to use Apple Pay on a regular basis. While it is true that the percentage of early adopters skyrocketed during the first few months Apple Pay was launched, the usage rates have since dropped. It is quite normal for excitement to cool down once a new product or service is launched, and the same thing is obviously happening to Apple Pay, but if this goes on far longer than expected, then it may spell trouble for Apple.
Then there is the competition. And we are not just talking about Samsung Pay or Android Pay here, but are referring to CurrentC, a rival mobile payment system that is backed by a consortium consisting of very big names such as Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, and Lowe’s, which are considered giants in the retail industry. Simply put, if Apple can not get them to its side, Apple Pay may have a much challenging road ahead.
And despite mobile payment systems becoming more popular now than ever before, most people are still not sold on the idea. Security and new technology aside, some consumers are just not fully comfortable about the idea of waving their iPhones in front of a counter in order to pay for stuff. And we have not even begun discussing the inherent limits of the system yet -- for all its sophistication, Apple Pay is still painfully dependent on whether or not a paying customer has his iPhone’s battery sufficiently charged. Which meant that paying the old way (via physical credit cards) still seem like the more practical approach.
Still, there is so much good about Apple Pay and mobile payment systems in general than all the bad stuff. The great thing about new or evolving technology is that it can still be polished. Who knows in a few years, paying via mobile may just be the new norm.
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