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In its second year, Apple Pay is ready to cash in

Dan Moren | July 27, 2015
It's already jumped the ocean and it's about to jump into thousands of mom-and-pop stores too. Dan Moren is pleased.

My local coffee shop already uses a tablet-based point of sale system (not Square, however), and my hopes are high that it and other small businesses will move quickly to adopt Apple Pay and similar NFC-based payments, whether it be via Square or some other point of sale system.

And, in fact, Apple Pay couldn't come at a better time, thanks to the imminent transition to more secure forms of payment, such as chip-based credit cards. Starting in mid-October, the liability for fraud on magnetic swipe transitions at most retail locations shifts from the card issuer to the retailer itself. That's a big incentive for stores to switch to terminals that accept cards with embedded chips or NFC payments--such as Apple Pay.

Chip cards, widely used in many countries overseas, are still rolling out slowly here, but when compared to the ability to pay with one's phone, they start to seem positively antiquated. Smartphone saturation, meanwhile, has probably outpaced smartcards.

App-ortunity knocks

One thing that didn't get mentioned in Cook's remarks was the roll out of Apple Pay inside iOS apps. That's something I've encountered surprisingly little of, and would like to see a whole lot more. In fact, the only app-based Apple Pay purchase experience I can recall off hand was rolling over at 3 a.m. a few months back to order my Apple Watch via the Apple Store app. Thanks to Apple Pay, all I had to do was press my thumbprint on my iPhone's Home button, making it about as pleasant a purchasing experience as one can have at three in the morning.

I'd guess that a lot of the holdup there is that many of these online services have established their own payment processing systems over the years, and thus might be reluctant to turn the keys over to Apple. I'm sure being able to keep people's credit cards on file--which isn't possible the way Apple Pay is set up--is no small part of it either.

But given how seamless and simple the process is, I can only hope that more and more apps will continue to adopt Apple Pay, recognizing that it's a great way to make it even easier for consumers to pony up.

Paying the piper

Apple Pay's off to a solid start, there's no question, but it's got a long way to go. Reinventing payments may not be Apple's core business, but it's definitely one of the most ambitious projects that the company has ever attempted. Here's hoping that a few years hence paying for things with our smartphones will seem as natural and commonplace as handing over a little plastic card does today.


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