The Most Popular Mobile Payments Platform Might Surprise You

November 6, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

A recent study from Boston Retail Partners managed to pin down what mobile payments platform is the most popular right now. Right now, the study points to Apple Pay as being the most popular, thanks to a hefty number of retailers that accommodate the system.

The Boston Retail Partners study found that 36 percent of North American retailers take Apple Pay, and another 22 percent are planning to do so within a year of the study being taken. While Apple Pay had some real trouble getting started—better than 97 percent of the merchants in the United States didn’t have the necessary near-field communications (NFC) terminals required to let Apple Pay work—three years later, many businesses made such upgrades.

That led Apple’s Luca Maestri, its chief financial officer, to declare Apple Pay “…by far the number one NFC payment service on mobile devices, with nearly 90 percent of all transactions globally.” Recently, Apple Pay added another four countries to the roster of lands that accept Apple Pay, which gave the company a score of 20 such nations overall. It also shows no signs of stopping; it’s planning to carry on with that expansion for at least some time to come.

That distinction, NFC payment service, was important. After all, we know that Samsung Pay has been taken almost anywhere credit cards are accepted—as long as the card reader can handle magnetic secure transmission (MST), the basis of Samsung Pay—since its inception.  Plus, we also know that Apple Pay has no shortage of competition; almost a third of retailers accept PayPal, and before the ball drops to end 2018, that number should rise to half.

It’s an important point of distinction; Apple Pay is indeed popular right now, but this popularity means surprisingly little. Mobile payments is not a zero-sum game; just because a retailer accepts Apple Pay doesn’t mean it can’t take PayPal and Samsung Pay and all the rest too. It’s a good idea to take as many platforms as a business can; each one ensures someone will be able to pay, somehow, and that’s profit to a business in the end. Still, it’s clear that Apple Pay found an audience early and carried on to produce some real wins.