Apple Pay’s march to ubiquity is going to be a slow and steady one, if Apple’s current rollout strategy is any indication. The company brought its mobile payment service to the United Kingdom in July after months of expansion in the U.S., and now Apple Pay is arriving in Canada today, with Australia set to come on board on Thursday.
There is a caveat: Apple Pay use is limited to American Express cardholders in those countries to start. Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president in charge of Apple Pay, told the Associated Press that American Express cards are easiest to support at launch because AmEx is both the payment network operator and the card issuer, whereas other payment networks like Visa and MasterCard work with financial institutions to issue cards that work on their network. It’s unclear when other cards will be supported in Canada and Australia.
Why this matters: Apple is clearly in no rush to replace your debit and credit cards with Apple Pay, though that’s the ultimate goal. Instead, the company is playing the long game with slow international expansion and patiently waiting for U.S. retailers to adopt the latest technology. Its recent partnership with Square to make an Apple Pay-compatible card reader that small businesses can afford to use is another indication that Apple is being methodical in its approach to mobile payments.
Apple Pay might have more success overseas
Apple Pay may see higher adoption rates in countries where tap-to-pay solutions with phones and chip cards are the norm. The U.S. lags behind in that regard, particularly in restaurants, where Apple Pay would be easier to use if Americans adopted the payment terminal at the table. The restaurant chain Chili’s will support Apple Pay in the spring with table tablets for easy mobile payments.
According to the AP, the U.S. had just 200,000 NFC-compatible payment terminals when Apple Pay launched last October. That number is going to exceed 1.5 million by the end of the year.
Apple also said Tuesday that Cinnabon will support Apple Pay at all of its U.S. stores next year. Domino’s locations, not including franchisees, will also accept Apple Pay by the end of this year. Starbucks, as previously announced, is currently testing Apple Pay at some locations before bringing it to all stores next year.
Apple may be taking another approach to speed up the spread of Apple Pay usage. There are rumors that the company may add a feature to Apple Pay that would allow you to transfer money to friends, perhaps using iMessage to make peer-to-peer payments as easy as texting.