Apple Pay – Superficial Critiques

I really do not like to get snarky, but sometimes I see blog posts that are so superficial that I cannot help but be a little testy.

Case in point Apple Pay Has Finally Arrived! Great – But Here Are 7 Reasons It Won’t Be A Slam-Dunk Success by Robert Hof, in Forbes.

First – I totally agree with Hof when he writes

it’s apparent that Apple Pay is far from a guaranteed success.

This definitely is true. No one can predict with surety two basic factors:

  1. Will it work properly?
  2. Will the public accept it?

Typically, Apple’s products and services work pretty well, but there have been some notable exceptions. The move from .mac to was a tremendous mess, and the introduction of Maps seriously flawed. Any system failure even vaguely approaching those will be a disaster. This is people’s credit cards and payments, not simply directions to the nearest movie theater.

As for number two, Apple seems to have a really refined system, and if it works as effortlessly as in Apple’s demo, it will certainly be the easiest method of paying yet available. A simple swipe of your iPhone or Apple Watch by the NFC reader while holding the home button (on the iPhone) and you are done.

But none of this is guaranteed. That is the nature of any business, especially one that is creating a whole new product.

But Hof goes on to list seven important areas where Apple Pay is lacking.

1 –You can’t use Apple Pay unless you buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus

Well DUHH!!!

That is like saying you cannot get navigation assistance if you do not buy a car with navigation assistance (or install it later). When the first car with built in navigation came out, no one criticized it by saying you could not use it in last year’s model.

On top of that, his statement actually is false. For one, you can pay with an Apple Watch, once they are out.

More importantly, Hof seems to be ignorant of the fact that Apple Pay is more than just NFC payments. It also includes the use of the Apple Pay system for purchases from the iTunes store, AND purchases via merchant apps that utilize the Apple Pay API. (More on this later.) These payments can be made with an iPhone 5s or the new iPads with Touch ID.

Bottom line: Hof is just wrong.

2 – Cash and credit cards just aren’t that hard to use

Yes, we all know that they are not that hard to use. We have been using them for decades now. But we also know they are not perfect. Hof goes on to claim that

consumers’ limited liability for fraud losses means better security probably won’t be appealing enough to drive usage of Apple Pay.

I think that this is misguided. First, where does he come off with such an off-hand declarative statement about whether people are concerned about fraud on their cards?

People are concerned about fraudulent use of their cards. Besides the invasion of a person’s privacy, and even if the monetary cost to the customer is nothing, there is still the problem of setting things straight.

One must go over the bills to identify fraudulent charges, report them to the issuer, file a bunch of forms, and then be without your card while they re-issue, and then, perhaps notify all the online and automatic payments that you have set up. Definitely a pain that no one wants to indure.

3 – You can use Apple Pay at only a limited number of retail stores

I think most people realize that this is just the beginning. They realize that like all new technology, it will take time to be adopted universally. It is not a hugely difficult concept for a consumer to understand that at Macy’s they have the NFC readers, and at some other place they do not. This will not stop anyone from using it at Macy’s if they find it beneficial.

When credit cards themselves first came out, not every business accepted them. This did not stop them from becoming ubiquitous.

Another really dumb argument.

4 – You’re going to have to carry around your credit cards and even cash anyway

Again – Like DUHH!!

Hof expounds:

…and forget about paying most of the vendors at the farmer’s market with anything but cash.

By this argument we should throw away all our credit cards too! After all, we can’t use them at the local farmer’s market!

So what? It is still easier, quicker and safer to pay at Macy’s, Panera, etc., so we use it where we can. (Such a difficult concept!) In fact, if you should duck down to the neighborhood Whole Foods for a 6-pack of Obsidian Stout, you can just grab your iPhone and leave the wallet at home. (Eventually you will be able to unlock your door with it too, so you won’t even need your keys.) And, BTW – if you have an Apple Watch, you won’t even need your phone.

Another frivolous argument here that is just the same as the previous one. (“Frivolous”? I am being kind.)

5 – Apple Pay may not actually be so much quicker than swiping a credit card

Well, perhaps not that much easier. But notice how Hof picks the simplest case and then pretends that it covers everything.

When you’re checking out with multiple items such as at a grocery store, you can swipe and have the card back in your wallet well before everything has been rung up.

Unless it is one of those grocery stores that requires an ID check. Then you need to go through the whole rigmarole. And what about the many stores where you still have to hand the card to the cashier? Or when the swipe does not register and you have already put it back in your pocket before you notice it? (Happened to me today.) And ever notice how every store has a slightly different system? You particularly notice it when in a place for the first time. Do you touch the screen or the little buttons on the right, or the Enter button at the bottom? Don’t forget to key in your PIN if it is a debit card. At some places you sign the card reader, but others a piece of paper.

And gee – it’s flu season – I wonder how many people have handled that electronic pencil you need to sign with?

And in the end, with today’s cards, you still have given your card info to the merchant where it may be hacked off their servers.

Flashing your iPhone sounds a lot quicker and simpler and more secure to me.

6- You’re already using some merchant wallets, and you’re not likely to dump them if they work

Hof writes:

The only way Apple Pay can truly change the way we all pay for things is to offer a platform for merchants to offer whatever additional services before, at, or after the point of sale that they think work for their specific customers

First of all, why is it that this is “The only way Apple Pay can truly change the way we all pay for things?” What gives you the authority to say this? But more importantly…

Mr. Hof, that is precisely what Apple has done.

Referring back to point #1, Hof seems totally ignorant of the portion of Apple Pay that is open to the app developer. Yes, developers now have a set of API (application programmers interface) routines that they can call to get Touch ID validation to authorize a payment through there own wallet or other merchant app.

My point, many of the merchant wallet apps will change to tap into this system. So using a merchant app will be using Apple Pay!

Ignorance is bliss? No just misinformed.

7 – Apple Pay doesn’t do much beyond what you can already do with a credit card–or even what you can do with other mobile wallets

Well, aside from being quicker, easier, and more secure. Perhaps not.

Oh, but then you add:

Indeed, Apple Pay right now doesn’t even include some of the non-payment features that account for the popularity of the few mobile payment apps out there: loyalty programs, offers, and discounts.

This is the same old argument from above, repeated in new words. It is just as untrue. Merchants can create apps that do all the things that Hof lists. Some already exist without using the Apple Pay system, others will be tapping into it now that it is available.

In conclusion

While I agree that the adoption of Apple Pay is not certain, the reasons are the two I noted in the opening here, not the silly little pseudo-reasons that pundits like to come up with to get reader hits on their blogs.

Now you may love the iPhone, or you may hate it. You may have an iPhone 6 but never want to use Apple Pay. All these are your personal feelings and it is your prerogative to have them. If you want to give some valid issues with iPhone or Galaxy or Apple Pay, please do. But don’t go about regurgitating half-baked notions that are flying around the blog-sphere and pretend they are news.

Any serious person understands that the success of Apple Pay is uncertain. But they also know that this success will be judged not by how many places you cannot use it, but by how many people in the stores where it is available do use it, and what their experience is in using it.

This we shall know pretty soon.




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