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So far in the year that Tim Cook called “the year of Apple Pay,” only a quarter of the top 100 retailers have signed up to support the mobile payments service, and almost two-thirds said they definitely won’t be supporting it in 2015.
Reuters did some heavy legwork calling up the top 100 retailers in the U.S. to ask if they honored Apple Pay, or planned to in the next year.
Apple has systematically signed up banks to participate in the Apple Pay platform, but whether retailers and smaller merchants will fall in line has been an open question. Apple has said that it will have half of all retailers on the platform by the end of 2015.
The Reuters report notes that Apple has been marketing the platform aggressively. “They have been pushing hard and it’s been that way for months,” one large retailer told Reuters. “They have called and tried to persuade us even after we communicated our decision to them.”
Only four of the companies Reuters talked to said they have plans to join the program in the next year.
The gaping hole in the Reuters story, however, is the fact that it did not ask the retailers if they currently support or plan to support any “contactless” mobile payment system.
One recent survey found that a quarter of all retailers don’t understand that come October 1, retailers who have not adopted the EMV technology standard for “chip and pin” payments will assume legal responsibility for credit card fraud. The survey found that 45 percent of those surveyed will very likely miss the October 1 deadline for having EMV points of sale equipment in place.
Reuters says many of the retailers cited “insufficient customer demand” as the main reason for not supporting Apple’s payment system. Some said the system also does not provide retailers with enough data from customer contacts. Many retailers use a customer’s credit card number as a way of tracking frequency of store visits and other metrics. Apple Pay obscures the user’s card number when a purchase is made.
iPhone 6 users haven’t exactly adopted Apple Pay as their killer app, either. By March, only 6 percent of iPhone 6 owners have used Apple Pay, and 85 percent of people with access to Apple Pay have never used it, according to a report by InfoScout and PYMNTS.
Apple said in March that 700,000 retailer sites already support Apple Pay. At its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, Apple is expected to announce that it will add support for rewards programs to Apple Pay.
To its credit, the Apple Pay system is the first major mobile payments system that is arguably easier to use than pulling out a plastic credit card. However, Google has just announced a new Android Pay platform that works in much the same way Apple’s system does.
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