Follow The Bouncing Apple

Tracking firm reports a decline in consumer use while credit union processors say they’re seeing increasing adoption.

Apple Pay adoption might actually be declining, according to one outfit that spends a lot of time tracking that bellwether of mobile payment options. says so in an Aug. 5 piece titled Apple Pay Adoption: The Falling Side Of The Bell Curve. Citing data from InfoScout, which has been measuring Apple Pay usage since its rollout last year, says 33% of iPhone 6 consumers who could use Apple Pay in a store did, down from 48% in March.

And that’s from among the population of iPhone 6 users who have actually uploaded their card data into their phones.

Am I surprised? Not really, CEO Karen Webster says in the posting. When Apple Pay launched, it did so with constraints on the user side had to have the iPhone 6 and the merchant side had to have an NFC terminal and nothing more than a way to pay as a consumer value proposition. When even the diehard early adopters didn’t go crazy for it at the start, it seemed a sure sign that their slog to ignition would only get harder. That’s certainly how it appears.

Time will tell if that falloff is just a blip on the bar graph. Three major providers of Apple Pay in credit union land report a mixed picture, including merchant acceptance as a key factor for future growth. Cindy McGinness, who manages digital channels for Florida-based PSCU, says more than 200 of its member-owner credit unions have stepped up to offer Apple Pay and that more than 100 are now live. She says Apple Pay credit card transactions processed through that CUSO have increased more than 15% each month and debit card transactions 20%.

This indicates consumers are interested in using this payment method and are becoming more comfortable with the idea and habit of using their mobile phone for payment, McGinness says. As merchant acceptance broadens Apple Pay transaction volume will increase.

Michelle Thornton, product develop director at California-based CO-OP Financial Services, says, Apple Pay adoption varies by credit union and how aggressive they are in marketing, but this mirrors industry reports of low but steadily growing adoption.

Meanwhile, Brian Day, director of digital strategy at Iowa-based TMG, says he spoke with several of his Apple Pay credit union clients at a company conference in July and none reported tremendous adoption of Apple Pay. However, high penetration rates weren’t yet expected, given the lack of merchant adoption, Day says, and he advises credit unions to keep promoting its availability as that side of the process is expected to grow as well.

That might help overcome one drag to adoption: Just remembering it’s there. The most recent PYMNTS/InfoScout Apple Pay Transaction Tracker reports says the number of users who didn’t use Apple Pay because they just plain forgot increased, from 32% to 34%. Meanwhile, the number of consumers who use Apple Pay whenever they remember has jumped from 34% to 42%, reports.

Even so, some habits will be hard to break. Day at TMG says he tries to use Apple Pay whenever he can, but admits: The other day I was at Walgreens, an Apple Pay merchant. Before I knew it, I had pulled out my card and swiped it.

This writer knows the feeling. I have an iPhone 6 Plus (which one of our senior managers sniffs at and calls my phablet.) It is a beast but hard to misplace. But anyway, I have yet to provision my credit or debit card into Apple Pay on it or really use the device’s Passbook functionality at all.

It’s so easy just to pull out the plastic. And so ingrained. But at least I did use my phablet to board a flight the other day. That’s progress.

August 13, 2015

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