Since the launch of Apple Pay in 2014, some analysts have been counting down until the day that mobile payment overtakes traditional cards, and a new era in purchasing convenience begins. Since then, forecasts have cooled off and mobile pay adoption has stabilized to a large degree. So where do we stand now with what was once seen as the future of customer experience?
 
The answer, much like the lingering perception of mobile payment, is a bit complicated. Some believe that, thanks to the expanding number of brands accepting the technology, the platform will continue to grow at a rapid rate in coming years. Also citing the growing variety of uses for mobile wallet, members of this school of thought see the platform as something that will eventually go far beyond just payment to provide a high level of utility for users.

So what does the future hold for Apple’s (and Samsung’s, and Android’s…) entrance into the payment technologies sphere? 

Narina Sippy, CMO at Stellar Loyalty, tells Loyalty360 that the problem isn’t with the platform, but rather the way in which most brands have viewed its implementation up to this point.
 
"The mistake brands make is thinking about mobile pay as a single means to an end. It's not about mobile pay itself; rather, it's about delivering the best possible customer experience and end-to-end frictionless transactions,” said Sippy. “That means tying together multiple capabilities in context, including loyalty, mobile ordering, recommendations and payments, along with gamification and social engagement to provide an overall experience that is satisfying and seamless. Leading brands like Starbucks and Walmart are taking consumers in this direction, and there will be a cascading effect until we've reached a tipping point and mobile payment surpasses traditional cards. It's only a matter of time."
 
On the other side of the table, however, some look at the slow adoption of mobile payments as a sign that the platform simply won’t catch on any time soon. A recent report from Citi Cards observed that 79% of Internet users were either “very” or “somewhat” unlikely to start using mobile apps in the payment process within the next year.
 
“Apple may be aiming to replace the wallet with Apple Pay, but there’s a few things that may be slowing the adoption pace,” said Carrie McIlveen, U.S. Director of Marketing at Metia. “Many retailers still don’t accept Apple Pay, banks need to support the service, and the early majority may be waiting to ensure any potential hiccups have been identified.”
 
Only time will tell how the platform fares moving forward, but there are factors that brands can certainly improve upon.
 
Companies need to educate users. Even Millennials are unsure of exactly how mobile payment works, which leaves a slim chance of older generations jumping at the opportunity to utilize the tool. By informing customers of how exactly to pay with their devices, this apprehension may become a thing of the past.

In spite of insistance from the platform operators, security is a concern for many of the platform's newest users. Tom Koeppen, CMO at DataCo Solutions, notes that with the addition of new technology for traditional credit cards, ensuring mobile pay security is more important than ever in winning over consumers.

"The introduction of EMV (chip card) technology at retail P.O.S. has shifted the loss potential significantly to e-commerce/CNP purchases," said Koeppen. "Mobile Pay products that can address this concern for the consumer, will win acceptance and accelerate adoption of mobile pay products. According to Mark Larson of KPMG*, "…providing a seamless but secure customer connection is no longer a mere IT risk, but instead emerges as a strategic brand, product and service imperative." (*source: KPMG Consumer Loss Barometer Report 2016)

Additionally, customers need more incentive to use the technology. Convenience and comfort will eventually be reason enough to make the switch, but consumers need the added value of mobile loyalty programs and digital gift cards to make the jump and complete the (perceived) sacrifice of leaving physical cards behind.
 
“The next logical step for Apple Pay may be a loyalty program, which could be an important way to improve customer knowledge, advocacy, and affect buying behaviors,” added McIllveen. “Rewarding loyal customers with robust rewards and bonus points may be a start. However, it will be important to utilize data to personalize the experience to form deeper levels of engagement.”

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