Mobile Payments Leader Apple Pay Poised to Sweep New Markets

May 17, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Apple Pay might best be described as the original mobile payments success story. With good reason, too; while there were mobile payments systems before Apple Pay—from Square to even PayPal—Apple Pay was the one that really brought the market forward. Now, new reports suggest that Apple Pay is poised for yet another expansion, nearly doubling its total market reach.

The reports from mobile bank Monese note that Apple Pay is set to arrive in 16 new markets, which will bring the total to 40 by the end of 2019. The biggest new expansion target is Europe, where Apple plans to bring its mobile payments service to many of the smaller European markets, especially Eastern European.

The list features Western European nations like Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, and Portugal, but gets heavily Eastern. Eastern European nations in the crosshairs include Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Additionally, Apple Pay plans arrivals in Hungary, Luxembourg and the Netherlands without any connection to Monese, which rounds out the list.

Apple Pay’s expansion has been reasonably steady since its launch. While some may consider it too slow an expansion, Apple does enjoy a critical advantage here. It’s a safe bet that Apple users haven’t picked up substitute services in the meantime, and since only Apple users can use Apple Pay to begin with, it’s not like they’ve lost the enormous non-Apple market they couldn’t have had anyway. Apple’s walled-garden strategy is working well for it in this sense; it can expand as it desires and not have to worry too much about losing customers.

It’s likewise getting clear that Apple is running out of “big fish” markets to expand into; the Bulgarian mobile payments market is likely not that big, especially as compared to the German or British market. A recent panel discussion on the subject, though, suggests that the Bulgarian market is eager to get some mobile payments initiatives started, so the time may actually be right for an Apple Pay expansion.

Apple Pay may only be a sideshow for Apple, but it’s doing some real wonders for the company’s bottom line. Expansion may be slow, but it seems to be steady, and that cliched combination could ultimately win the race for Apple.