As a modern society, the concept of mobile payments still eludes us.

When Apple Pay came out my colleagues and I were optimistic.  For any payment system to work, consumers, banks and merchants must all agree to accept and support it. With Apple Pay, one company finally united two of these three groups – which by default should cause the third to adopt if they want to be a part of the next payment revolution.  So, with Apple’s consumer base and its partnerships with the biggest banks in the country surely merchants would follow. After all, why wouldn’t a store accept a payment method that consumers want to use and that banks are supporting?

But the reality has not matched the vision, as the videos below demonstrate.

The first video depicts how Apple Pay has been envisioned to work.  Simply wave your phone at the terminal and you’re done.  For the stores where it does work, Apple Pay is truly an amazing service and surpasses the expectations a consumer has for what “mobile payments” means.  It really is an elegant user experience.

The second video shows what we’ve experienced in several national retailers where we’ve attempted to use Apple Pay.  As you’ll see, the experience is rather clumsy in that there are multiple steps involved. After initially waving your phone, the terminal requires you to tap a payment option, tap to confirm the amount, wait for processing and then, of all things, provide your signature.

Consumers who encounter the experience of the second video must be less likely to attempt to use Apple Pay again. After all, what benefit does one get if the new system is just replacing a swipe with a wave?  The current solution of swiping a card is not painful enough for consumers to tolerate the hiccups and awkwardness of a new solution.
apple payIt’s clear that there are a myriad of infrastructure and cost issues unique to each merchant ranging from the local mom and pop shop all the way up to national retailer chains. It is also becoming increasingly evident that for any new payment ecosystem to flourish, just having two of the three components is not enough.  Rather, it is essential that issuers, consumers AND merchants all be onboard in order for it to generate enough momentum for widespread adoption.

I’ll leave you with one final image of the influence of merchants on any new payment system. A cashier frustrated with customers attempting to use Apple Pay has completely disabled all the magic and innovation promised by Apple with a simple strategically placed note.

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