Walgreens, and others Say Apple Pay Is Now Most Popular NFC Payment Method

Posted by at 5:22 am on November 17, 2014

Just a month after its debut, Apple Pay appears to be dominating NFC payment systems where it is available, according to reports, with the public quickly accepting the new checkout method due to its ease of use and speed. McDonald’s recently noted that 50 percent of its contactless payments are now coming from Apple Pay, while Walgreens reports similar figures — saying that the number of mobile transactions it has processed since Apple Pay’s debut has doubled.

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While a certain amount of the growth in contactless payments is likely due to the novelty of being able to use the system for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners, consumers have expressed delight with how well the system works with merchants who accept the payments. Apart from an early bank snafu that saw some customers accidentally double-charged (and later refunded), the system has largely rolled out without incident, and many iPhone 6 owners report having used Apple Pay for weeks, already turning the cutting-edge but highly-secure system into a routine payment habit.

Whole Foods, one of Apple Pay’s early supporters, said it has processed more than 150,000 payments through Apple Pay. With over 220,000 terminals now supporting the system, and more than 500 banks on board or committed to supporting Apple Pay, the iPhone maker has catapulted into being the US’ top provider of mobile payments practically overnight. “Quite frankly, a lot of [the early success] has to do with the strength of the Apple brand, and how much merchants and customers love how easy the experience is,” DenĂ©e Carrington, an analyst with Forrester Research, told The New York Times. “… this has never happened with other mobile wallets.”

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As has often been the case, Apple is capitalizing on a system initially built by others by bringing together a complete solution that benefits consumers rather than payment providers or merchants. Contactless payment systems have been bubbling under in the US for years, spearheaded by credit card companies such as Mastercard and Visa — but even with the arrival of an online component in the form of Google Wallet and Softcard (formerly ISIS), the public at large couldn’t see much advantage to using it over traditional methods.

Apple Pay, which combines a fingerprint-secured verification process with the use of tokens to prevent merchants or potential attackers from getting any useful consumer data during the process, appears to have won over consumers with a process that is genuinely easy, works well, meets higher security standards than conventional mag-stripe cards (or even the forthcoming chip-and-PIN cards) and takes less time than current card-based payments. The system appears to work on any NFC-compatible terminal, which are now being more widely deployed as part of the rollout of the EMV chip-and-PIN cards most consumers will be carrying by this time next year.

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