If you are like Farhad Manjoo, it’s hard to understand the appeal of Apple Pay:
I pretty much never use Apple Pay
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) November 24, 2015
Judging from the reactions to his tweet, he’s in good company.
And, indeed, I was in that company until very recently. I use a Killspencer iPhone 6 case that affixes to the back of my phone and keeps my driver license and three credit cards with me at all times. Nothing could be easier than pulling out a card and swiping to purchase.
Nothing, it turns out, except Apple Pay.
The reason has nothing to do with Apple Pay, per se, and everything to do with Touch ID, which is by far the biggest innovation in mobile phones in a long, long time.
Who Pays With Apple Pay?
Apple is used to launching products and seeing them soar, bringing in massive profits. Apple Pay adoption, however, has been much more pedestrian.
According to survey data collected by PYMNTS.com, while Apple Pay adoption keeps rising, that rise is very, very slow:
As for why adoption has been so slow, chalk it up to inertia and ignorance:
Ignorance of Apple Pay will fade over time, leaving the biggest problem being ease of use. But I’d argue that this, too, has more to do with ignorance than anything else.
Touch ID To The Rescue
As mentioned, I’ve been an Apple Pay unbeliever for the past year. As someone that tends to be an early adopter, I tried it early on but kept running into issues with the registry of my debit card.
This wasn’t a problem with Apple Pay: It was a problem with my bank, which is so concerned about my security that they make it virtually impossible to sign up a card. (Example: “On June 5, 2003, you bought something that cost $23.35. Please name the merchant.” What?!)
Because of persistent fraud problems with that debit card, I switched to paying with my Chase VISA credit card, which was a snap to set up. (Take a picture of your credit card and boom! you’re registered.) Once registered, I started to test the waters at various merchants, hoping to pay with Apple Pay.
As it turns out, the merchants I visit most frequently (grocery stores) all accept Apple Pay, meaning that I now use Apple Pay more often than not.
This wouldn’t have been the case, however, if using Apple Pay weren’t significantly easier than pulling out a card (which, remember, are affixed to the back of my phone). But it is.
And the reason is Touch ID.
While some think Apple Pay requires you to open the Apple Wallet (formerly Passbook), find the card, hold it in front of the register, and then authenticate using Touch ID, you don’t.
All you actually have to do is hold the phone near the register with your finger on the Touch ID “home” button. That’s it.
Immediately afterward, you get a notification that tells you the purchase went through. They can be turned off, but personally, I love those notifications so much that I’ve enabled them for all my credit card purchases (using Apple Pay or not). It’s fascinating to see how you’re billed in real-time. Uber, for example, immediately dings me $1 to test my card when I order a car.
A Bright Future For Apple Pay
We’ve already seen more than half of online retail purchases shift to our mobile devices from the desktop web this holiday season, according to the Adobe Digital Index (ADI), which tracks over 90% of all online purchases. This represents people like me deciding it’s wiser to buy online with a mobile device than to park in crowds of Black Friday shoppers.
But we’re also going to increasingly see people paying with their phones, and predominately Apple Pay, as users discover the ease and simplicity of Touch ID. Faster than a card swipe and easier for those of us that can hardly remember what to do with a pen, Touch ID-enabled Apple Pay is inevitable, even if you haven’t yet succumbed.
Trust me. You will.
Lead photo courtesy of McDonald’s