Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay. Mobile payments are here and they’re on the rise. A recent study from Boston Retail Partners noted that 36% of retailers participating in their survey accept Apple Pay, with 24% accepting Android Pay and 18% accepting Samsung Pay. In a recent earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that Apple Pay transactions were up 500% year-over-year for the September quarter. Granted that includes app based payments, but you’d expect that proximity payments were moving the needle a bit too.
Interesting that coming off of the EMV liability shift these numbers aren’t bigger as many, if not the majority, of processors replaced legacy terminals with those that were both EMV and NFC enabled, which would lend you to believe that they could, in fact, accept NFC based contactless wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay. With Samsung Pay, it’s mind-boggling as Samsung Pay works (well, over 95% of the time) anywhere that accepts a traditional magnetic stripe card.
So, is it that they don’t accept contactless payments, or just that they don’t know that they do? Working in the space, being an avid Apple user and appreciating the convenience of being able to pay with a tap versus a swipe or dip, I set up my Apple Pay account right when it was launched. Admittedly, it took me a while to find a place to use it. Whole Foods is my go-to as it always works there. In terms of other stores, I’ve had a variety of interesting experiences. One of the first places I attempted to use Apple Pay was a mid-sized, regional retailer in New Hampshire. I noticed that they had the Verifone MX series with the added NFC reader and the green light was on. Any normal person would have no clue what this meant, but working in the payments space, I knew it meant go for me – I could use my phone. Excited, I pulled out my phone and tapped on Apple Pay. The cashier looked at me and said, “We don’t take that.” I politely replied, “Actually, I think you do. I work in payments and I think that you can take Apple Pay with this piece of equipment.” She let me try and, boom, it worked. Success. She was excited as were the customers behind me.
Another store I visit regularly recently went through a major renovation and, with that, came new processing equipment as they had to upgrade for EMV. I was excited when I saw their new readers as the display promoted the NFC icon as a form of payment. I was even more excited this time as their EMV dip process is clunky and admittedly feels like it’s taking forever. I grabbed my phone and the cashier noted that they were not sure if it would work, but I could try it. Epic fail. Nothing. They then commented that they thought they were going to have it, but their processor didn’t set it up for them. And, they’re not a micro-merchant. They’ve got about 7 lanes and two big locations doing a solid amount of volume.
My final example is my go-to daily grocery store. As I mentioned, I always pay by phone at Whole Foods, but I also shop at a regional chain, who until recently had legacy hardware and wasn’t accepting EMV or NFC. But, then one day, I was at the check-out when I saw it. A brand new, shiny Verifone MX915. I know that they’re not all equipped with NFC, so I asked my cashier. “Oh yeah, we take that now,” she said. I grabbed my phone – definitely more convenient, because I keep my grocery list on my phone, so it’s one and done, but it didn’t work. She noted that she thought she needed to hit something on her POS first. Fail. But, I did try and again on a subsequent visit and it worked. So far, I’m about 50% success over the past three months, and I visit weekly if not more.
My conclusion. Not all businesses accept contactless payments, but a lot more do than statistics and surveys show, they just don’t know they do. For those in and around the space, it’s about education, and then more education. Granted, businesses are not likely losing customers because they cannot accept, or can and don’t know it, contactless payments, but they’re losing time and opportunity. Contactless payments are faster and some have really slick, easy to use loyalty programs and/or digital ‘advertising’ or additional exposure opportunities that are already included and part of the experience. Lot’s for businesses to know about, and take advantage of to help them grow their own business.