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In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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Apple Pay’s Slow Battle for Acceptance

Getting retailers to accept Apple Pay has become an uphill battle for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). Even though the payment app has been available for nearly a year, it is still a challenge to find a retailer that takes it.

The list of merchants that actually accepts Apple Pay has not changed much from last year. The only major additions I could spot on July 10 were the Luby’s and Fuddruckers restaurants, Jet Blue, and the Lin’s, Lucky, Save Mart, Shaws, United and Harvey regional supermarket chains.

There are some pretty big names on the coming soon list, including discount retailer Big Lots!, Albertsons, JC Penney, Forever 21, Baskin Robbins, Best Buy, Dunkin Donuts, Raley’s, Trader Joes, Regal Cinemas, and Kohl’s. Two hotel chains, Marriott and Renaissance Hotels, also appear on that list, which makes them the first major hotel operators to take the Apple Pay plunge. The list is still a major disappointment for those that want to use a payment app.

Most of the nation’s largest retailers and restaurant chains are still avoiding Apple Pay as if it were the plague. Costco, the various Kroger supermarkets such as Ralph’s, Target, Sears, CVS, and Lowe’s are among the major retailers still saying no to Apple Pay. The payment app revolution is moving at a glacial pace.

Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey unveils where Apple Pay can be used in England. Note: some brands that do not accept Apple Pay in the US could accept it in the UK.
Apple spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey unveils where Apple Pay can be used in England. Note: some brands that do not accept Apple Pay in the US could accept it in the UK. Courtesy Daily Mail

Where Is Current C?

Apple Pay’s progress, as slow as it is, is lightning fast compared to that of Current C—the Apple Pay alternative being pushed by the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, a consortium of retailers that includes Walmart, Kroger, and Target. Even though the MCX’s website contains an impressive list of names, the app itself is not yet available.

Visitors to the site see that Walmart, Target, Publix, Wendy’s, 7-11, Kmart, Sears, CVS Pharmacies, and ExxonMobil are among the stores planning to take Current C. Yet it does not say when or where Current C will actually be available. Interestingly enough, a number of the merchants on the Current C list, including Meijer and Best Buy, also either take Apple Pay or appear on Apple Pay’s coming soon list. This could show that they are impatient with the MCX or simply have lost faith in it.

Credit Unions Love Apple Pay

The banking industry has become a little more receptive of Apple Pay than retail has. Around 23 more financial institutions, mostly credit unions, have started offering Apple Pay to their members, Apple Insider reported. One of those that recently adopted Apple Pay is the Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, which has nearly half a million members in Central Texas.

The acceptance of Apple Pay by banks will probably be the one factor that forces retailers to accept the app. If virtually every bank offers it, big retail will have no choice but to take the plunge.

The idea of payment apps is still very popular though; American Express (NYSE: AXP) is planning to offer its payment app, called Amex Express Checkout, Re/Code reported. The service will first be offered to ecommerce, but it could quickly be converted into a payment app for stores. It is not clear when the Amex app will be available.

Apple Pay in the UK

Apple Pay’s next big test will come this month in the United Kingdom, where the payment app is supposed to be available sometime this month. The service could be much more popular in Great Britain because it will be more widely accepted there, The Verge reported. The Daily Mail reported that tourists can already use Apple Pay in London on June 8, but did not say where it was accepted so the network is already in operation.

You could soon able to pay your fare on the Tube or London Underground with Apple Pay.
You could soon able to pay your fare on the Tube or London Underground with Apple Pay.

Several of Britain’s biggest banks, including HSBC, Lloyds Bank, TSB, Nationwide, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank, Santander, Ulster Bank, and Bank of Scotland, will accept it. More importantly, Transport for London, the agency that operates the Underground and buses in the British capital, will support Apple Pay. One potential problem facing Apple is that the use of Apple Pay on transit has not been tested yet.

There is also no organized resistance to Apple Pay among British merchants the way there is with the MCX in the U.S., Forbes contributor Thomas Husson pointed out, although it is not clear how many British retailers will actually accept Apple Pay. Still, a successful rollout in the UK could boost the chance of Apple Pay being accepted in other countries such as Germany and Canada. It might also convince U.S. retailers to adopt Apple Pay.

Despite all the hype, it looks like it will take several years for Apple Pay to become widely accepted. Perhaps the major factor for success for Apple Pay will be another widely adopted payment app; Apple Pay might need something like Current C on the market to be accepted and successful. My prediction is that payment apps will not become a big part of our lives until several of them become widely used.