Despite CEO Tim Cook’s well-publicized claim that Apple Pay has broad appeal among retailers, the tech giant’s mobile payments platform may not be as popular as previously portrayed.
Only a quarter of the top 100 retailers have signed up to support Apple Pay, and almost two-thirds said they definitely won’t be supporting it in 2015, according to a Reuters analysis.
Reuters worked from the National Retail Federation’s list of the top 100 US retailers, surveying the 98 that had brick-and-mortar outlets (two sell only online). Eighty-five supplied detailed responses, and 11 others supplied information only about whether they accept Apple Pay. Two did not respond.
The survey’s findings seem to deal a blow to Apple’s rosy outlook. Fewer than a quarter of the retailers said they accepted Apple Pay, and nearly two-thirds of the chains said categorically they would not be accepting it this year. Only four companies said they had plans to join the program in the next year.
This is far from Apple’s own expectations. “We’ve spoken to all of the top 100 merchants in the US, and about half will accept Apple Pay this year, with many more the following year,” a company representative recently told Reuters.
Moreover, CEO Cook proclaimed in a January earnings call with investors that “2015 will be the year of Apple Pay,”
Consumer Demand is Poor
Reuters said these were the reasons cited by merchants for not accepting Apple Pay: insufficient customer demand; lack of access to data generated in Apple Pay transactions; and the cost of technology to facilitate the payments.
Some merchants said they were opting to wait for a new mobile payment system to be launched by a coalition of retailers later this year.
Nonetheless, Reuters points out that Apple Pay has made progress in signing up vendors, with more than 700,000 sites as of March 9, according to the most recent figures provided by Apple. Those include self-service terminals such as vending machines, laundromats and parking meters.
Apple has used aggressive marketing to recruit participants. “They have been pushing hard and it’s been that way for months,” the representative of one large retailer that has no plans to accept Apple Pay told Reuters. “They have called and tried to persuade us even after we communicated our decision to them.”
Reuters: “The company hasn’t adopted Apple Pay, he said, because not even a ‘small percentage’ of its customers have asked for it.