Apple Pay Overtakes Starbucks as Most Popular Mobile Payment Platform in the US

Apple Pay has overtaken the Starbucks mobile app to become the most popular mobile payment system in the United States, claims a new report out today.


According to eMarketer, ‌Apple Pay‌ became the market leader last year, when 27.7 million Americans used the app to make a purchase. Since then, however, ‌Apple Pay‌ has grown even faster than expected.

In 2019, ‌Apple Pay‌ will have 30.3 million users, or 47.3 percent of mobile payment users. That compares with Starbucks' 25.2 million customers via its mobile app in the same year, representing 39.4 percent of mobile payment users.
"‌Apple Pay‌ has benefited from the spread of new point-of-sale (POS) systems that work with the NFC signals ‌Apple Pay‌ runs on," said eMarketer principal analyst Yory Wurmser. "The same trend should also help Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but they will continue to split the Android market."
Citing data from Digital Trends, the analysis predicts ‌Apple Pay‌ will be available in 70 percent of U.S. retailers by the end of 2019. In contrast, the Starbucks app has commanded a 40 percent market share of mobile payments for the last few years, but growth potential is limited because it can only be used in Starbucks stores.

Total spending via contactless mobile payments will approach $100 billion this year in the U.S., according to eMarketer. On average, that is equivalent to a user spending $1,545 per year, up more than 24 percent over last year.

Nearly 64 million people (30 percent of all U.S. smartphone users) are expected to make use of mobile payments this year, a 9.1 percent increase over 2018. In terms of demographics, nearly 50 percent of all smartphone users are adults aged 25 to 34, so the growth of mobile payments is expected to be strongest in this age group, although digital wallet use is said to be growing across the board.

"Although a growing number of millennials feel secure using payment apps, virtually all still find credit and debit cards equally convenient," said eMarketer forecasting analyst Vincent Yip. That bodes well for Apple Card, which launched earlier this year. ‌Apple Pay‌ is now in 47 markets and in the June quarter, started adding more new users than PayPal, with monthly transaction volume growing four times as fast.

Top Rated Comments

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4 weeks ago
That seems like a weird comparison to make, but as long as it has been made, it actually to me makes Apple Pay sound less popular than I would have guessed.

If I understand this right, only slightly more people use Apple Pay, which is a way of using almost any credit card for any purchase at any location, than use the Starbucks mobile order app at Starbucks cafes.

That means out of the virtually endless places you could use Apple Pay, about the same number use the Starbucks mobile app to pay at a single store.

I don't see that as a winning statistic.
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Too bad it’s a credit card, I would defintely indulge in prepaid debit or something
Cause: 24% more spending YoY

I don't think they're referring to Apple Card but to Apple Pay which you can use with virtually any payment method like a debit card or Apple's own Apple Cash.
Rating: 27 Votes
4 weeks ago
You can use Apple Pay or any other contactless technology at 99.9% of payment terminals in Australia. Essentially all stores, restaurants and cafes. Even trains and busses. How contactless payments are still niche in the US is crazy to think.
Rating: 22 Votes
4 weeks ago


That seems like a weird comparison to make, but as long as it has been made, it actually to me makes Apple Pay sound less popular than I would have guessed.

If I understand this right, only slightly more people use Apple Pay, which is a way of using almost any credit card for any purchase at any location, than use the Starbucks mobile order app at Starbucks cafes.

That means out of the virtually endless places you could use Apple Pay, about the same number use the Starbucks mobile app to pay at a single store.

I don't see that as a winning statistic.
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I don't think they're referring to Apple Card but to Apple Pay which you can use with virtually any payment method like a debit card or Apple's own Apple Cash.

Well, the article states that 47.3% of people are using ApplePay this year, which is nearly half of all users that use any mobile payment option at all. That’s a pretty darn good statistic, especially considering that ApplePay is only available on iPhones.

Starbucks allegedly is used by 39.4% of mobile payment users, so ApplePay is decently ahead of them. Again, consider that Starbucks mobile pay can be used on any smartphone.

Being the number 1 mobile payment solution *and* Having an almost 10% lead over the second-place solution while also only being limited to around 22% of the smartphone market share is pretty impressive.
Rating: 18 Votes
4 weeks ago


Well, thats odd. I have always been wondering why the US is virtually 10 years behind other countries in this regard.


Short version of why the US didn't move to chip readers sooner is it didn't have much reason to do so. The telecommunications infrastructure allowed for live authentication vs batch processing, so there wasn't the incentive to implement chip+PIN to reduce fraud as there was elsewhere.

More info here: https://www.zdnet.com/article/emv-understanding-why-the-us-migration-didnt-happen-sooner/
Rating: 7 Votes
4 weeks ago


Well, thats odd. I have always been wondering why the US is virtually 10 years behind other countries in this regard. In Europe, the contactless payment was introduced several years ago. Actually, I had my first credit card with a chip instead of magnetic stripe some 10 years ago. In China for example, there is currently no need of POS terminals at all as virtually everything can be paid with WeChat.
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Well, small business just need to purchase a POS terminal that is not 10 years old. Not really expensive or difficult to implement.


Speaking from the industy -- We aren't virtually behind anything. We were the first country to launch contactless payments in 2004 while everyone else was trying to figure out the chip. So we had to deal with the tin-foil hats for the rest of you. About how people were going to steal your credit card from a mile away. Complaints to remove PayPass and PayWave from cards. We had a huge ramp up for about 5 years, then a slowing down (and even ripping out) for the next 5 years where the loud mouth minority got their way.

Then there's also the scale of what needs to be done. Card by card, store by store. There's 330 million Visa cards in the US... 771 million in the rest of the world combined. Mastercard is 231 vs 644. AmEx is 54 vs 60. That's nearly 50% of the whole pie that needs to be replaced... for a second time. And as of calendar close 2018, we were 50% done. Fueling the slow pace this time around is that as soon as its adopted, fraud responsibility falls on the merchant. Previously, someone uses a fake card, merchant gets paid the full amount; the credit card issuer eats the loss. Not anymore.

Anyway... Visa and Mastercard has mandating that all terminals must support contactless -- for example, 1 January 2020 the entire EU must support it or they'll charge merchants larger fees for using outdated terminals. In the US it'll be by market segment.

In relation to WeChat. Real-Time Payments are now a thing here. Banks are rolling it out now, first to corporates.
Rating: 5 Votes
4 weeks ago
Interesting. I didn’t know that Starbucks had a system.
Rating: 4 Votes
4 weeks ago


That is why do many places don't accept apple pay, apple gets a cut. Apple are themselves slowing the adoption of it by being a middleman.

Do you have a source for this?

Last I knew, merchant fees aren't affected. It's the card issuers who pay Apple's cut.

Edit:
Apple claims no cost to merchants, see https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204274
Merchants may even pay _lower_ fees on Apple Pay transactions due to the higher level of security, see https://www.macworld.com/article/2682873/apple-pay-nets-a-discount-from-banks-walmart-says-no-thanks.html
Rating: 4 Votes
4 weeks ago
Where is CurrentC on this list? Must be a mistake....
Rating: 3 Votes
4 weeks ago
I was wondering why PYMNTS was all but saying that Apple Pay was a failure ('https://www.pymnts.com/news/mobile-payments/2019/report-what-apple-pay-at-five-says-about-the-future-of-mobile-pos-payments/') the other day. It's almost as though they expected this article to come out or something. *shrug*

(I've always found them to be anti-Apple Pay, but I haven't figured out why.)

The technical piece of enabling contactless is generally not complicated at all.


EMVco and card network certification (up to four separate ones or more because each of their contactless standards is at least a little bit different) can bump up the technical challenges significantly. For instance, a few places disabled contactless entirely when Visa's EMV contactless mandate took effect earlier this year (instead of upgrading their magnetic stripe-based contactless implementations). It's similar to how a lot of places had chip hardware for quite a while before actually being able to turn it on.

Of course, the challenges would be a lot less had retailers not gone with custom POS integrations and the like, but it's obvious at this point that they'll never give up on those.

On the business side, there are other factors. I don't know how it works in your country, but in the US it's pretty common for banks to issue debit cards that can also act like credit cards (i.e. no PIN required, gets authorized like a credit card even though it ultimately comes out of the checking account). They do this because the gov't here capped the interchange fee that big banks can charge to authorize debit transactions. The fee the banks charge for credit transactions isn't capped, so it's in the banks best interest that customers choose to process transactions from their checking account as "credit".

Merchants know this, and many big merchants (once they figure out you've swiped/dipped a combo card into the payment terminal) will attempt to get you to process the transaction as "debit", not "credit". It saves the merchant money if they're able to get you to do that, plain and simple.

That workflow isn't "out-of-the-box" for contactless payments, which I think is one of a few business-related reasons that some of the larger merchants in the US haven't enabled contactless yet.


The Durbin Amendment caps interchange for large banks' debit cards to 0.05% regardless of how they're run, so it shouldn't matter for those to always route over Visa or MC. However, interchange in general is likely one of the reasons for the continued holdouts. As it is now, most smaller purchases are still done in cash in the US; contactless payment moving a lot of that over to cards instead would be a nightmare for stores' bottom lines, especially since interchange for credit cards and for debit cards not covered under Durbin is much higher than in a lot of other countries. (Note: this is why $5-10 minimums for card use seem to be more common in the US than in the places where interchange has been capped to low levels.)

IMO, at some point, the networks will likely need to start incentivizing retailers to accept contactless by offering at least a token decrease in interchange for such transactions. While I'm sure they may be able to get almost full adoption without it eventually, I can imagine minimums and surcharging ending up significantly more common than they are now--to the point where it's something that's expected at most stores.

As for debit routing with contactless, it's totally possible. For instance, Sprouts and Vons here will prompt for PIN if you tap with a debit card (and will say "debit" on the receipt, too, unlike the "Visa" or "Mastercard" it would say if it wasn't routed as such). Whether stores necessarily want to do that, though, is the question, mainly because it's kind of a UX hassle for customers.
Rating: 3 Votes
4 weeks ago


What a horrible milestone. I want to use Apple Pay 100% of the time on my watch. I want to say good riddance to chip cards at a time when chip cards are absolutely slowing down all transactions in all stores.

But to this date, Apple Pay has still ever only worked for me correctly in Walgreens and airport newsstands. These are the only stores that don’t require a pin.

70% of the time I can’t even use it at all. I’d like to see some laws requiring all digital payments to be accepted whenever a store tries to do ANYthing related to digital payments or rewards programs.

I don’t understand how the nation that landed man on the moon hadn’t got contactless payments everywhere. Besides a few Asian places I visit that only take cash I only know of one car park which doesn’t use Apple pay here in Australia. Once NSW fully roll out the electronic drivers licence I won’t need a wallet
Rating: 3 Votes

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