Apple Pay seems to be the new hot thing ever since it came out in October. Mobile payments are said to be up in the time since its debut, banks are chomping at the bit to sing its praises, and somewhere Steve Jobs is looking down approvingly at Tim Cook. It's a fun novelty that I admit, I jumped on the bandwagon early for, but is it really all its cracked up to be? After using it for a few months in my day to day routine, here are my thoughts.
For all the hype that went into Apple Pay when Apple announced it on stage, I find that even though convenience was touted as the main feature, it is not. Now let me preface this by saying that I have only used Apple Pay with Debit Cards, so I don't know how or if the experience differs when using credit cards instead of debit cards. The main gripe I have with convenience is this; sure, I usually already have my phone out when I'm waiting on line simply because waiting on line is so excruciatingly boring. However once I get to the register that's where the convenience stops. Not pulling out my wallet. I still have to put in my pin number (which is a good security feature actually), and I still have to answer a MILLION questions on the POS system. I know that isn't exactly Apple's fault, but it's still not as easy as was advertised by Apple, and it still means that convenience isn't the most important feature.
So what is the most important feature? To me that's easy, the killer feature of Apple Pay is security. Which in this day and age where it seems like everyday you hear horror stories about a new company being hacked, is a big deal. What keeps me coming back to Apple Pay whenever I have the opportunity to is the security. When using Apple Pay your credit card number and details are stored in the iPhone's secure element. Which means that your credit card information is never actually exposed to the retailer, unless you use the same credit card for your iTunes account, not even Apple sees your credit card number.
Why is this important? A few reasons actually. For one, there are countless ways to skim credit card information from POS systems. Even if it's not skimmed you still have the worry of that retailer now having your credit card information. And if they get hacked next. Your credit card information could be stolen in that hack. If you use Apple Pay, then the retailer only gets a random device number, not your credit card number. As Apple said, your credit card information stays between you and your bank. Not to mention that the only way to actually pay is by using your fingerprint to authenticate. Meaning if your phone gets stolen, you don't have to worry about someone going on a shopping spree with it.
This is why I wish Apple Pay was accepted everywhere, but it's not. As a matter of fact Apple Pay is accepted in a painfully small amount of places, and that really sucks! As a matter of fact even living in Manhattan I find that I can only use Apple Pay at two places that I actually shop at. Whole Foods, and Walgreens/Duane Reade (they're the same company). If Apple Pay is going to succeed where others have failed, they need to get more retailers on board, and quick. I don't see CurrentC being a competitor to Apple Pay ever. I mean really who does? It sucks and its already been hacked. However I don't doubt that if Apple doesn't hurry and get more retailers on board, there definitely will be competitors that could easily trump Apple Pay in this area. Next year PayPal will be spun off into it's own company seperate from eBay, and there is not doubt in my mind that they'll be looking to battle Apple in this space, and really, this is the area that is most important to mass adoption. If Apple Pay isn't accepted across the board, then even if people want to use it, they won't be able to, which will lead to Apple Pay being just another forgotten service taking up space on your iPhone.