Apple Pay Users Doubled in the Past Year

EXCLUSIVE– Apple reported earnings yesterday, and tucked in among all the dollar signs and iPhone Xs was some Apple Pay news – usage is going up.

From how many users to how many more users, you ask? No idea! Juniper Research estimates the service may hit 86 million users this year. In any case, an unspecified number of Apple Pay users can now confuse cashiers in four more countries. Here’s CFO Luca Maestri on the earnings call yesterday:

Apple Pay expanded to Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the UAE last month and continues to grow rapidly. Over the past year, active users have more than doubled and annual transactions are up 330%. In the U.S., 70% of leading grocery chains are now accepting Apple Pay with the recent launch of Safeway, and over 5 million U.S. merchant locations will be Apple Pay-enabled by the end of this year.

Apple Pay is now in more than 20 countries and works with more than 4,000 issuers. The service is rumored to be headed to Poland and the Netherlands next.

CEO Tim Cook mentioned “totally new experiences like unlocking your iPhone with Face ID” on the iPhone X, but there was nothing more from Apple about the service. Many banks rely on Touch ID, so Face ID may lead to some authentication scrambles, though larger banks such as U.S. Bank are already prepared. Wired noted today that Face ID is hard to trick, though early users have also said the service “sort of sucks.” Last week Cupertino denied rumors it had weakened Face ID somehow in a rush to get to market. It’s still early days for Face ID, so machine learning has time to figure it out, right? Until someone with a lot of Twitter followers can’t get into his $999 phone….

The real leader in mobile payments, Starbucks, also reported earnings yesterday. It saw Mobile Order & Pay, its order-ahead service, grow to 10% of all orders this year. In terms of mobile payments generally, CEO Kevin Johnson noted that “36% of tender comes from Starbucks Rewards. The vast majority, via our mobile app.” In June, Starbucks noted that 30% of payments were via mobile. It’s not clear if that number has grown, based on Johnson’s comments.

In any case, Starbucks has vastly more mobile payment transactions and users than Apple Pay. But hey, at least Apple Pay’s better off than Android Pay or Samsung Pay. Have you ever seen anyone pay with Android Pay or Samsung Pay?

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism, which makes him quite old. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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