Like everybody, I was really excited when Apple released Apple Pay to the public in October of 2014. The idea of paying for physical goods or services, in a store, with my iPhone felt like the future we had been promised was finally available.
Fast-forward eighteen months, and I am now facing the sad realization that I barely use Apple Pay. It’s not entirely Apple’s fault either.
There are several reasons why I don’t use Apple Pay as often as I would want to. The most obvious one is that the technology needed at the point of sale has not made its way to the majority of stores in my area. Von’s, 7-11, Shell, and other locations I frequently visit don’t support contactless payments. Only a few stores like Walgreens, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods do, but these are still in the minority. I’m not sure where you live, but from my experience traveling to different locations across the country, this seems to be the same situation everywhere.
And because Apple Pay (or contactless payments in general) aren’t supported in the majority of places, it’s basically a gamble to go to a store and pull out your iPhone to try to pay. I’ve tried that before in the early days of Apple Pay. Even stores that are equipped with compatible payment terminals don’t always have the feature activated. So it looks like you can pay with your iPhone, but the cashier looks at you like you’ve just landed from Mars as he tells you this store doesn’t “take phone payments.” Ultimately, I ended up giving up and now I don’t even bother anymore, unless I am at a location I know for a fact accepts Apple Pay.
This is a big problem. If I know I can’t reliably and constantly pay with Apple Pay, how am I supposed to break my old habit of using a credit card?
It’s not completely Apple’s fault either. Sure the company has done a terrible job at promoting the service to both users and merchants, but can it be held accountable for the slow adoption of contactless payment terminals? Absolutely not. This is something the merchant himself is responsible for. Thankfully, it seems things are about to change.
As of October 2015, merchants that do not offer support for chip card technology may be held responsible in case of fraudulent transactions. This has been forcing most merchants to update their point of sale system to offer support for chip technology and NFC at the same time, but as you can imagine, this transition will still take time and money.
Where Apple Pay works, I also find the promise of rapidity to not always be the case. More often than not when paying with Apple Pay in stores, it takes for seemingly ever to go through the process: take the phone out of the pocket, double tap the Home button to choose the right credit card, bring phone near the terminal, confirmation appears on the phone, put the phone back in the pocket, cashier tells you payment didn’t actually go through, repeat process, wait for transaction to go through, done. Finally.
I’m not even making it up. This situation happens to me more often than not.
In contrast, I never have a problem using my physical credit card. I use a minimalist wallet with my main card on top. It takes less time to pull my wallet out of my pocket and slide my American Express than trying to pay with my iPhone. And when I use my credit card, I know for sure the payment will go through, without having me stand there awkwardly tapping my phone on the payment terminal, hoping I won’t look too much like a dork.
I want to use Apple Pay because it’s just more convenient (and safer too) than it is to carry credit cards on me. But there are too many factors that really stop me from committing to this otherwise awesome feature at this time.
Depending on where you live, you might have a similar or completely different experience, so please do share it with us in the comments section below.