Apple Pay is driving NFC volume up and pulling Apple’s NFC rivals along with it, according to preliminary reports. In a speech this week, a Walgreens executive–Deepika Pandey, group vice president, digital marketing & customer experience—said that her chain has seen in-store NFC payments double after accepting Apple Pay. Apple Pay competitor, Google Wallet, which has been struggling for years, is also seeing a boost. ARS Technica quotes a Google source telling them “weekly transactions have increased by 50 percent, and in the recent couple of months, new users have nearly doubled compared to the previous month.”
It is far from clear that Apple Pay has anything to worry about or that NFC payments should take much solace in the numbers. NFC use is driven by contactless plastic cards and contactless mobile payments. Both technologies haven’t caught the fancy of consumers and the number of transactions on either before Apple Pay was miniscule. The same is true for Google Wallet. Google hasn’t reported pre-Apple Pay use of Google Wallet but all indications are that it is very small. Fifty percent more of almost nothing may not get this Apple Pay rival off the ground.
Nevertheless, these early reports are interesting. Most people don’t have iPhone 6’s, but do have Android phones with NFC, and it is possible that the massive publicity received for Apple Pay and the increased interest in mobile payments will increase volume for other mobile payment companies and even give NFC a much needed boost.