Skip to main content

Apple Pay transactions seeing ‘continued, double-digit monthly growth’ but some retailers question uptake

Apple Pay iPhone 6

Apple has declared that Apple Pay is off to a “great start” almost a year after its launch with the company seeing steady growth in Apple Pay transactions every month. In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said:

“We’re off to a great start and we are seeing continued, double-digit monthly growth in Apple Pay transactions since launch,” Apple said in an e-mailed statement.

Apple Pay launched last year with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the US. The service expanded to the UK a few months ago. In Apple’s January investor call, Cook claimed 2015 was “the year of Apple Pay”. However, Bloomberg notes that not everyone is as thrilled with the mobile payments service as Apple is. At both Panera Bread and Firehouse, Apple Pay transactions make up low single-digit percentages of overall purchases…

Although it’s hard to judge success for a mobile payments solution that only works on recent iPhone and Apple Watch hardware, these numbers do seem low. Firehouse is also disappointed with Apple’s lack of marketing for the feature: “Apple is just not even pushing it out,” Burchianti said.

A survey for Apple Watch users showed that most users would set up the feature by adding cards but over half of those only used the service once. Another questionnaire showed that users did not understand the service’s benefits enough to make it part of their habitual buying process. It is very true that Apple Pay is more of a convenience right now, rather than an essential feature.

Apple is expanding Wallet (nee Passbook) in iOS 9 with the addition of Discover cards, as well as store loyalty cards. This should help promote the iPhone wallet features overall, which could give Apple Pay more attention and encourage more adoption of the feature. For the US market, the introduction of EMV technology may also be a factor in Apple Pay uptake, as it will be faster for customers and more efficient for retailers to use contactless payment methods.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. rogifan - 7 years ago

    You pay with your phone what’s there to understand? Once we’re no longer swiping credit cards people will understand.

  2. gkbrown - 7 years ago

    “Apple is expanding Wallet…in iOS 9 with the addition of Discovery cards”

    Did you mean Discover? Just wondering.

    But yes, Apple’s marketing for Apple Pay has thus far been very poor.

  3. yuniverse7 - 7 years ago

    I love using ApplePay. It’s fast and simple, not to mention secure(although even if it’s secure at the terminal, it doesn’t help much when a credit company such as experian gets hacked). I always look for ApplePay terminals whenever I can.

  4. At the moment it’s not much of a convenience, though it’s potentially more secure than carrying a card. I can take my wallet out of my pocket and just tap it over top of a payment terminal to complete a transaction – the card sits in it and there’s no need to take it out. That’s even easier than taking the phone out of pants pocket and putting finger on Touch ID.

    But… the situation is potentially different in the US. Where I am in Canada there’s no such thing as a credit or debit card without contactless payment anymore. Every single card has had a chip and contactless support for over a year – many institutions for 4 or 5 years already. So tapping something to complete a payment isn’t so new/novel any more and it will be difficult to sell someone on the “convenience” of taping a phone instead of a card or wallet.

    • gkbrown - 7 years ago

      “I can take my wallet out of my pocket and just tap it over top of a payment terminal to complete a transaction…the situation is potentially different in the US.”

      Correct. None of my cards are contactless. They all require a physical swipe, so Apple Pay is much more convenient for me.

  5. AbsarokaSheriff - 7 years ago

    I use Apple Pay whenever I can and preferentially shop at retailers such as Macy’s, Whole Foods, etc. that take it. Between my watch and my phone I have done over 200 transactions. For retailers that are very familiar I use the watch (Sprouts, WF, TJ’s) and for less familiar I use the phone. The iPhone 6s with faster fingerprint recognition is nice but I have not run into that as a problem at all.

    The adoption of EMV by merchants in the US has been excruciatingly slow and that is having a direct impact on Apple Pay. A swipe is very convenient but also very insecure. The terminals are showing up which at least have better Malware protection and encryption but only a handful are forcing EMV use. Card replacement with chips in them is at about 30%. It’s going to take another Target/Home Depot fiasco to really spur the adoption.

    Once people are forced to modify behavior by dipping an EMV card, using a phone or watch with Apple Pay might be seen as a better alternative.

    Apple has been bad at marketing Apple Pay, just a trivial ad, I would have to agree. And they especially haven’t emphasized security which in my mind is the whole point. Tokenization is brilliant, tokens are like expired lottery tickets. Plus the Device Account number is unique for the device, there’s nothing for criminals to steal from the backend.

    Hopefully with Android Pay and Samsung Pay (NFC part) there will be more users driving more adoption.

  6. gregonaut - 7 years ago

    It’s kinda hard to judge a service like mobile pay when a lot of retailers are scared about it, uninformed about it, behind the times technically speaking, and generally not allowing their customers to use it.

    • US merchants like being 20-25 years behind those in Europe. I think that’s the bottom line here. Banking in the US and Canada is insanely archaic, it’s a surprise we don’t see more abacus use (disclaimer, I worked in banking for many years before tech full time)

  7. grandtheftautotom - 7 years ago

    One of the problems with Apple Pay, is the availability of it. You can only use it in the US and UK. Other countries are left out at the moment. And I’m pretty sure Apple Pay will get much and much bigger once it expands to other countries. The Netherlands for example, is known for its popularity in contactless payments. We would embrace Apple Pay without a doubt. At least, I’d use it all the time. And I know a lot people who would as well. :)

    But like always, Apple prioritizes the bigger countries. Same as with things like ordering a new iPhone. The iPhone 6s (Plus) becomes available here this Friday, that’s two weeks after the release in countries like the US, UK, Germany, France etc. As long as Apple doesn’t show the other countries as much love as they do with the US, UK etc, Apple Pay will never really grow.

  8. matthiasf - 7 years ago

    The problem is that half the time I don’t even know if a store support Apple Pay. No logo on the terminal and when you ask the cashier they don’t know either. And With people behind you in line waiting I don’t want to hold them up on a maybe it works. I do use it at whole foods where I know it works.

    • gkbrown - 7 years ago

      It works at Staples too, and the cashiers seem to be pretty knowledgeable about it.

  9. thisisasticup - 7 years ago

    I use mine nearly everyday straight from the watch. If more companies would have nfc payments i woudn’t even carry my wallet.

  10. emulatronic - 7 years ago

    Every time I go to a new shop or whatever I asked if they support contactless. 95% of the time they say NO, or they don’t know what I’m talking about. Other times, they support it but they don’t know it, and I have to show them. The good thing is that other customer see it too….

    When they tell me that they don’t support contactless, I ask: What about the CHIP? (Their data card has a slot for chip card). and they ALWAYS answer: it’s not enabled.

    What’s the point? I got new cards with chip, iPhone/Apple Watch with contactless, the merchants got the new data cards, but they still force me to swipe the card!

    • prolango - 7 years ago

      I got to use Apple Pay for the first time today. There was a sticker on Subway’s entrance, but the staff didn’t know what what I was talking about. Fortunately by explaining it to them, I was able to pay for my meal. This was especially useful since I didn’t have my wallet on me.

  11. kijijigod - 7 years ago

    Apple needs to circle back and re-think its apple pay rollout. This technology is going to live or die on how well apple can integrate it into people’s everyday habits, and without changing habits, it will not make it. At least 90% of credit cards need to support it, why would I embrace it if only 3 out of the 4 cards I use regularly support it? People need to be able to abandon their physical cards, just like iTunes enabled people to completely abandon physical media.

    Wallet is a great concept, but until we can store D/L and other gov’t ID’s in it, how are we going to get rid of our real wallet?

    Please apple, I hate packing my wallet around. It is soooooo 2005. Don’t let this wither on the vine like ibeacon.

  12. inthepattern - 7 years ago

    I really like using ApplePay, it just seems that most retailers I’m at fail to properly support it. I use it when I can, though.

  13. Wait until it’s available in whole Europe. That growth will be huge!

  14. lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

    Where the merchant has properly set up the service it works flawlessly. Some merchants just don’t get it however. They ask for PINS, they ask for signatures, they ask for the last four digits, they ask for picture IDs.

    In my locale there is a large grocery chain called Schnuck’s Markets that has fully embraced Apple Pay. They have signs on their POS terminals and have set things up properly. I use my Watch and a few seconds later the transaction is approved, no PIN, no signature, no nothing. It just works like it is supposed to.

  15. Tim LeVier - 7 years ago

    I use it whenever I can at registers that have the terminal upfront for me to use. But some locations – like Subway, have small terminals pulled away from the customer and it seems like it’s an inconvenience to be the guy that uses a non-standard method. The terminals at Panera are nice though. No reason those shouldn’t be used a lot. I’m excited for the day when regular places like my Kroger store and gas pumps are compatible.

  16. pdoobs - 7 years ago

    Never really used it until the new “chipped” credit cards went live this passed week. It’s so much faster than those readers that I will continue to use it whenever possible. Also the 10% cash back from discover is pretty awesome.

  17. josejrp - 7 years ago

    I try to use Apple Pay everywhere I can… but it can be a struggle. Sometimes the NFC symbol will be there, but the retailer will not take Apple Pay. Sometimes it takes two tries because the cashier has to do something on their end (the first try seems to go through on the watch/iPhone but it really doesn’t)… and sometimes the cashier will say Apple Pay is not supported when it should be. It was a bit frustrating at Disneyworld – Discover will not work at all in the park with Apple Pay even though the card is accepted (which was disappointing since I missed out on their 10% offer). Even when I switched my default card, the cashiers always had to do something on their terminal before I applied my watch to the reader for the transaction to go through (I believe they had to hit a button to specify that the transaction was a credit charge). If the cashier didn’t do their end, the watch would have the “accept” checkmark, but the transaction would not go through and it would then take a couple of more tries. Some cashiers would just say Apple Pay wasn’t accepted when it should’ve been. It was nice when it worked but frustrating when it didn’t…

  18. myke2241 - 7 years ago

    my card issuer doesn’t support AP but my Girlfriend does. yesterday was the first time she used AP and honestly it was awesome! I’m thinking about changing banks to one that supports AP now.

  19. As an iPhone 6 owner, I’ve used apple pay a few times, but I find the times I use it, is when the retailer reminds me that I have it! Typically by way of either a clearly visible apple pay accepted here, apple pay logo, or cashier who asks. I love the convienance apple pay gives me, when I remember to use it. I find that in many a buying situation, since my mind may be distracted by other thoughts, that I fall into old habits, unless some external source prompts me other wise.

  20. Chris Born (@pelted) - 7 years ago

    I use it when I can, and occasionally make shopping choices based on who I know supports it. The biggest problem with contactless payments for me is the number of terminals that are not enabled. More and more stores have the contactless terminals, but easily 8 out of 10 that I visit either have staff who look at me like I’m crazy when I pay that way, or the terminal feature is just not turned on. I don’t like the feeling of looking stupid holding my phone to a payment terminal only to have it say it works then have to pull out a card anyway and swipe it.

  21. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    It’s all about adoption and terminals. Apple is doing nothing wrong. The system is smooth and easy on the iPhone and Watch. Certain components of society are dug in the sand.

  22. Michael Weisberg - 7 years ago

    Here is the problem that I have with Panera…at least with the ones here in the Chicagoland area. Only about half of the registers have the actual contactless POS terminal attached to it. The rest still have the CC swipe on the register monitor. So, depending on who is taking your order, you may not be able to use AP. Panera needs to change out the rest of their POS terminals and their figures should increase.

    • Lack of adequate POS terminals is the same issue I’ve run into with the Panera in my area too.

    • THIS THIS THIS SO MUCH THIS. I won’t order if I am not at a terminal that doesn’t support it. Now, I am in STL, and thankfully they’re rolling it out fast and furious here being that we are HQ for them, but there are still stores that only have 1-2 registers equipped with it.

  23. srgmac - 7 years ago

    Meh, Apple pay fails hardcore in terms of availability. Samsung Pay will eventually overtake it, as it works without NFC, is just as secure, and works pretty much everywhere.

  24. Gerry Reidel (@greidel) - 7 years ago

    The issue for me isn’t the retail end, it’s the card issuers. None of the banks I do business with support it. My main bank is a credit union. When I asked about Apple Pay, the teller didn’t even know what I was talking about! Another teller said that as just a local credit union, they had no plans to support it.

  25. Andy Balfour - 7 years ago

    It’s wrong to say you can only use Apple Pay in the US and UK, I’m a UK resident but I’ve used my watch to pay in Australia and Europe. If a merchant takes contactless payments Apple Pay works in my experience in fact about the only place I couldn’t use it in Australia was an Apple store. For me the benefit of using my watch outside the UK is that I’m not tied to the £30 limit we have here.
    I agree that taking my phone out is no quicker than touching the machine with my wallet but the watch is way faster, two clicks of the button and I’m ready to go.

  26. yojimbo007 - 7 years ago

    Retailers question uptake?
    Come on.. Put up some ApplePay stickers on your windows and registars… Let me know you support ApplePay and i promise you will get my business rather than the other merchant who does not….
    But.. I have to have a way of distinguishing which merchants honor it from outside… ( not be forced to walk in and ask )…

    Apple; FLOOD the market and merchants with Stickers .. Incentivize merchants putting them up on Windows.
    Help the customers recognize ApplePay stores and make deliberate choices to walk in……

    Exposure , exposure….. !!

    So, merchants, rather than question uptake… Let yourself be known as ApplePay Supporters ….. There are no shortage of iphone owners.

  27. Terrence Newton - 7 years ago

    Discover’s 10% cash back promotion is by far the best incentive to using Apple Pay right now.

  28. Julian Velasquez - 7 years ago

    I’m not surprised there is a low number of payments at Panera Bread. They don’t make it very clear where you place your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay. It’s not as intuitive.

  29. Hahn Suh - 7 years ago

    Did you ever heard of media called Kipost? Kipost offers fine articles related to this topic, visit and take a look around the website!

  30. Guido (@Guidoo_nl) - 7 years ago

    I’m on a three week holiday in the states (live in the Netherlands), had to block my Amex card because of being skimmed after already two weeks. The payment method in the USA is so old-fashioned with a swipe and signature. More than 90% of the stores I visited are the chip + pin not activated and the sales persons look weird when trying to use the chip. So Apple Pay and competing services are a welcome development for the payment industry in the US. I can’t wait to start using Apple Pay in my home country, because it’s even more secure than chip+pin. (Already ways to skim these too, but more complex than the magnetic strip)


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.