While Near Field Communications (NFC) terminals can be found in more retail locations, some merchants still have not warmed up to accepting Apple Pay or Google Pay. As the following Houston Chronicle article reports, several grocery chains do not have the urge to take these universal mobile pays.
Science fiction writer William Gibson famously declared in 2003, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”
But after using my watch to buy a bottle of water at a truck stop on the way to Corpus Christi, I can report that the future’s ubiquity is a lot more complete.
I used the touchless payment system called Apple Pay on an Apple Watch at the Love’s Travel Stop in Edna, on U.S. 59 midway between Houston and Corpus. While I use it all the time in town – even on the coffee machines here at the Houston Chronicle HQ – its appearance in this rural context kind of blew my mind.
It also got me thinking. While Apple Pay and other types of mobile payment systems are increasingly common, it’s interesting who is not yet using them.
Why wouldn’t a merchant adopt this technology? Using a smartphone or watch to handle a retail transaction is a great customer experience – fast, simple and secure – regardless of whether you’re using Apple Pay or its Android-based competitors Google Pay and Samsung Pay. There’s a little learning curve, but once you set it up on your device, it’s much faster and safer than using a credit card.
With Apple Pay, verification is done either through fingerprints with Touch ID, or with facial recognition (Face ID) on the iPhone X.
Say every U.S. merchant had an NFC terminal—would consumers be using Apple Pay or Google Pay a lot more? Probably not. Many surveys, including Mercator’s CustomerMonitor Survey Series have shown low user penetration for the universal pays, with merchant mobile pay apps being slightly more popular. Regardless of NFC terminal availability, shoppers need more reasons than simply making a payment to use either Apple Pay or Google Pay. Apple may be noticing this as well, as the company in recent months has been offering incentives to use its Pay. Just today, they announced a $20 Apple Pay promo offer with Nike. Samsung Pay has developed its own rewards program as well. Time will tell if these rewards will move the needle on usage, but they are positive signs that should attract more consumers.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Director, Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group