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Offering Apple Pay at Checkout: Pros and Cons for Businesses

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Shoppers are increasingly receptive to the idea of mobile wallets, and the growing popularity of Apple Pay is helping to fuel the trend.  Many businesses are responding to that demand by offering mobile payment options — in this case, by upgrading to checkout systems that allow shoppers to scan their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch instead of a credit card.

The time may be right for your business to consider adopting Apple Pay, but the service also has limitations. Review the following pros and cons to help evaluate whether it is for you.


  • Ease of use. Apple Pay gives shoppers a fast and innovative way to pay, eliminating the credit card swipes, signatures and print receipts that slow down transactions. While all mobile payment systems simplify checkout, Apple Pay’s use of the iPhone or Apple Watch is an added convenience for people who own them.
  • Minimal investment. Payments via iPhones and Apple Watches require near-field communications (NFC) technology — which many payment systems don’t yet have — but upcoming security requirements for fraud-fighting EMV credit cards mean that many merchants are due for a systems upgrade, anyway. As merchants enhance their checkout machines to meet the requirements, many are likely to include NFC technology upgrades as well. At that point, companies offering Apple Pay will have no setup or ongoing fees because Apple Pay earns money from credit card company transaction fees rather than from merchants.
  • Added protection. High-profile data breaches have bolstered consumer awareness of merchant security practices. Accepting Apple Pay signals that your business takes data safety seriously. Apple Pay uses device account numbers and dynamic security codes to process transactions. Credit card numbers and shoppers’ personal information are never transmitted through your network.
  • Competitive advantage. Accepting Apple Pay can help your business keep pace with bigger retailers that already offer it. And as shoppers get used to paying via mobile devices, they will start to expect this convenience from businesses of all sizes, especially those that cater to younger consumers. Analysts from Gartner expect $720 billion in global transactions to be completed on mobile devices by 2017, up from $235 billion in 2014. Preparing for Apple Pay now may give you a head start on your competition.


  • Performance glitches.Since Apple Pay’s rollout in October 2014, reports of problems have surfaced. These include things like terminal hiccups and inaccurate transactions, and some issues have been amplified by cashiers’ lack of familiarity with Apple Pay. It's likely that these problems will become less common as the technology enters the mainstream. In the meantime, reduce headaches by training your team in the proper use of Apple Pay. Keep informed on the latest glitches that users are experiencing and best practices for how to deal with them.
  • Limited access to customer data. Savvy retailers collect customer information to refine inventory choices, marketing efforts and loyalty programs. Apple Pay hides this information, limiting the data your company can access to inform these types of business decisions.
  • Lack of online shopping support. Currently, shoppers can’t use Apple Pay for online purchases. If your business relies on Internet sales, this may limit the benefits you get from the technology. It could also put a damper on overall adoption of Apple Pay unless online shopping capabilities are added in the future.
  • Competition. Apple Pay works on Apple devices only. This means your company will need to decide whether to adopt other mobile wallets as well. Google Wallet offers a mobile payment option for Android users and Samsung is expected to release a mobile payment solution this year.  

Each business should assess its own needs, its customer preferences and its potential costs when considering whether to adopt Apple Pay. Your organization’s unique situation is the most important factor, so think about your business and customers before you make your decision.

For more advice and information to help grow your small business, visit California Bank & Trust’s Business Resource Center and its Blog.

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The information contained herein may not represent the views and opinions of California Bank & Trust, a division of ZB, N.A. or its affiliates. It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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