Majority of Apple Pay users report problems, survey says

Apple's mobile payment system seems to have hit a rough patch. Many users experience problems at PoS terminals, and some retailers that claim to support the system still don't, according to a recent survey.

apple pay
Credit: McDonald's

If you're one of the millions of people who purchased an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, there's a good chance you signed up for Apple Pay. If so, there's also a good chance that you've been disappointed with Apple's mobile payment system, at least if your experience has been anything like those of the 3,000 consumers surveyed by Phoenix Marketing International.

"Two-out-of-three Apple Pay users have reported a problem at checkout – mostly related to terminals not working or taking too long to make the transaction, inaccurate posting of transactions and the inability of cashiers to help buyers who needed assistance in using Apple Pay," said Leon Majors, a senior vice president at Phoenix.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said they had visited a store that was listed as an Apple Pay merchant only to find out that it did yet not support it, according to Majors.

The survey was conducted during the third week of February. Phoenix queried so-called "decision makers" in households that use credit cards. Just over 3,000 people completed the survey. Roughly 37 percent of the respondents were baby boomers, most of the others were Millennials or Gen Xers, the two age groups that are most likely to use Apple Pay, according to Majors.

A separate survey by Citi Research had similar findings. About 40 percent of those respondents complained that point-of-sale (PoS) terminals didn't work with Apple Pay or that there aren't enough merchants who accept it, according to Bloomberg News.

Some of these problems are not at all surprising. Many merchants who want to accept Apple Pay need to replace their PoS devices with terminals that support wireless Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. There's also a need to teach store clerks how to use Apple Pay and to devise methods to help customers who have problems.

Many retailers rushed to jump on the Apple Pay wagon as quickly as possible, and that may have contributed to the stumbles. McDonald's, for example, launched it at all of its 14,000 domestic stores and drive-thrus on Oct. 20, the day the payment system went live. Apple Pay is now supported by 2,500 banks in the United States, and it's accepted at 700,000 locations, Apple CEO Time Cook said recently.

I suspect these bumps will be ironed out before too long, but there's another issue that may well be more serious in the long run: fraud. Some bank card issuers have found that up to eight percent of Apple Pay transactions were fraudulent, compared with 0.1 percent on traditional payments cards, according to Julie Conroy, an analyst with Alte Group, who spoke to Bloomberg. And as my colleague Al Sacco reported recently, there are concerns that using Apple Pay on the Apple Watch – it ships on April 24 – could make the fraud problem even worse.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't use Apple Pay or that it's a failure. New technologies often hit rough patches after they debut, and Apple Pay is no exception.

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