From duplicate charges to near-field failures, Apple Pay isn't making it cleanly over the first set of hurdles it's facing on the track to widespread adoption.
While it hasn't been plagued by bugs as were the launches of iOS 8 and HealthKit, Apple Pay's woes are much like those that have kept other virtual wallet platforms from killing off magnetized plastic.
Phoenix Marketing International began a study on Apple Pay just before the virtual wallet system launched, continued following it after it was rolled out, and has now reported on its findings. The firm has identified three hurdles standing in the way of Apple Pay.
The first hurdle is the market penetration of near-field communications (NFC) terminals, which are required to complete Apple Pay's wireless transaction at retail outlets.
"Despite industry efforts to communicate the security of NFC transactions, 40 percent of smartphone owners aren't buying it," said Greg Weed, director of card performance research at Phoenix Marketing International. "This group thinks 'tap and go' is a barrier, not an inducement, to app trial. By a 2-1 margin, consumers give lower security ratings to an NFC transaction than a magnetic strip card transaction."
PMI lists "field execution" as the second hurdle set out in front of Apple Pay, and there have been both overt and almost unseen stumbles.
Some Twitter users and a CNN reporter, all Bank of America customers, found they were being charged twice for Apple Pay purchases. Bank of America assured them the issue was with Apple Pay and an Apple spokesman asserted the the problem was small in scale.
"We're aware of a Bank of America issue impacting a very small number of Apple Pay users," the Apple spokesman said. "They're working on a fix that will be available shortly and reversing any duplicate transactions."
As for the overt issues with Apple, Anick Jesdanun reported he was able to buy lunch at McDonald's after three tries at waving around his iPhone and waiting for the magic to happen.
"I tapped on the sensor too hard the first time," states Jesdanun. "The second time, I moved the phone away from the reader as I was still authenticating the transaction. The phone told me to bring it closer. All I really needed to do was tap on the fingerprint sensor lightly, while leaving the phone near the reader for about a second or two until the phone vibrates. That's not a difficult thing to learn."
The third hurdle PMI lists is consumer rewards. With a premium placed on consumer privacy and cybersecurity, retailers are limited in their ability to reward customers for shopping via Apple Pay.
"This trade-off is certainly not lost on Apple, given their iBeacon technology, but it's an issue Apple will need to work through in order to maximize Apple Pay's market presence over the long term," said Weed.