Apple Pay, the mobile payments system that Apple activated less than three months ago, has already started to transform the way consumers pay for products and services. Although Apple Pay is not the first mobile payments system to enable a mobile device to function as a digital wallet for users’ cards, it appears to be growing at a much faster rate than similar systems offered by other companies. A recent research report from Investment Technology Group (ITG) found that Apple Pay already accounted for 1% of all digital payment dollars during the month of November. While the similarly functioning Google Wallet mobile payments system accounted for 4% of all digital payment dollars during the same time period, Google’s system has been available for over three years. If Apple Pay continues the rate of growth it achieved in November, it may match or surpass Google Wallet by the end of February 2015.
The rapid growth of Apple Pay is likely due to a combination of factors, including Apple users’ overall tendency to use their mobile devices for making purchases more often than Android users. For example, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark data, Apple users accounted for about 27% of all online mobile sales this past holiday season, almost four times the amount of sales derived from Android users. Although those metrics are for users’ online shopping habits, the same trends likely apply to each platform’s NFC-based mobile payment systems.
Another factor driving Apple Pay’s significant growth rate is the number of financial institutions and retailers that are supporting and promoting the nascent mobile payments system. Major banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America have run advertisements encouraging their customers to adopt the service. Meanwhile, despite some major holdouts from a consortium of merchants that are developing their own mobile payments system, the number of stores that accept Apple Pay is continuing to grow. Now it appears that two driver-focused services may give Apple Pay an additional boost in 2015.
According to a recent report from MarketWatch, the city of New York is considering allowing drivers to pay their parking tickets with Apple Pay. While New York City’s parking bureau currently offers an online payment system, the site has not been optimized for mobile users. The city is hoping that the addition of alternative payment options such as Apple Pay and digital currency Bitcoin will decrease the number of penalties from late payments, reports MarketWatch.
The acceptance of Apple Pay by New York City’s parking bureau could be a major revenue boost for the iPhone maker’s mobile payment system. As noted by MarketWatch, New York City collects approximately $600 million in parking ticket revenue each year. While the parking bureau’s potential use of Apple Pay is still in the early exploratory phase, the acceptance of Apple Pay by a major city like New York could eventually encourage other metropolitan areas to adopt the mobile payments system.
Paying parking tickets in New York may not be the only new Apple Pay service targeted at drivers this year. A recent tweet from Chevron revealed that the oil company is developing a system that would allow Apple Pay to be used as a payment option at gas station pumps. While the initial tweet suggested that the system would debut in “early 2015,” a subsequent tweet noted that the timeline was not set in stone. However, Chevron promised that it would continue to roll out its in-store Apple Pay systems to 3,000 locations this year. Chevron was an early supporter of Apple Pay and was referenced in Apple’s press release about the mobile payments system in October last year.
While it remains to be seen how much the addition of these two driver-friendly Apple Pay services will boost the mobile payment system’s growth in 2015, the impact could be significant if the usage rates follow the pattern seen at other merchants. Less than a month after the mobile payments system was activated, McDonald’s told The New York Times that Apple Pay already accounted for 50% of the restaurant chain’s tap-to-pay transactions, while Walgreens noted that its mobile wallet payments had doubled.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS
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