Pizza Hut, who was the first retailer to truly push the capabilities of the iPhone app and has been a longtime massive support of Apple efforts, said some decidedly non-cheerleaderish comments on Monday (Oct. 6) during a tradeshow panel.
“I am more pessimistic about Apple Pay’s impact than most people here,” Danny Sullivan, the pizza chain’s vice president of global digital experience, said during a panel at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2014, according to a report in Mobile Commerce Daily.
His concerns are simply that he thinks the well-known limits of the initial Apple deployment—primarily that it’s an in-store-only payment mechanism (no E-Commerce) and that it obviously excludes Android users—will slow down acceptance and blunt Apple Pay’s impact. “I think it will take longer than most people think,” Sullivan said.
The Pizza Hut exec represented the cautious perspective, during a panel shared with his Sears and Calvin Klein counterparts, among others. He reminded the audience that American consumers have no core problem with using rectangular plastic cards to pay for products in-store—magstripe devices that have worked quite well for decades—so much persuasion will be needed for any in-store mobile payment to gain serious traffic, momentum and marketshare.
“I still don’t think the use case has been made,” Sullivan said. “It has been talked about in the industry forever,” adding that he does think that massive acceptance of in-store mobile payments is “inevitable.”
But “I think what will make it inevitable is when credit card companies stop sending you plastic cards,” he said. “That is not going to happen very soon. From a customer experience point, credit cards still work pretty well.”
The only flaw in that argument is that it would be applicable if Apple Pay was solely about replacing the payment function. But beyond enhanced security and convenience, Apple Pay will be about integrating loyalty and highly-targeted offers and other elements that move the experience far beyond what a piece of plastic could.
Sullivan said the in-store payment experience of Apple Pay is “nice to have” but said it was only one mobile payment app in a sea of such apps.
“I think there are already a lot of good payment options out there. Most people who have apps already have accounts so the ability to kind of prove your login and sign in and use Apple Pay, you probably already have credit card information saved in that account,” Sullivan said in a related video interview. “On the in-store experience side, everyone’s waiting for some trigger to really get people to start using mobile payments in-store off of their phone in a bigger way, outside of a couple of coffee vendors. Maybe this will be it? I’m a little pessimistic that any one solution, even one as big as Apple, will really move the needle meaningfully in the short term, but I think it’s a promising step to where it’s going to happen in the future.”
Others on the panel embraced Apple Pay.
“My instinct is it is a game changer,” said Brett Miller, vice president of ecommerce at Calvin Klein, according to the Mobile Commerce Daily report. “The alternative mobile payments space – I read there are 26 different ones – I think this one is going to be the tipping point in the whole process just because there are 500 million iTunes account holders, (220,000 merchant locations) have already signed on and how easy it is to go on iTunes and buy something. I think it is going to remove a lot of friction. I think it is going to change the whole landscape of the payments processors and improve the conversion rates, particularly for retailers.”
Andy Chu, divisional vice president of mobile commerce at Sears, said much will change as Apple’s legendary marketing machine starts to convince people that this is something they truly need and want.
“We have been talking about mobile payments, mobile wallets for a long time but, the general consumer may not be aware of it,” Chu said. “Having Apple getting into the game and bringing a new level of marketing awareness across the consumer segment will be interesting. We will see retailers promote that they are part of Apple Pay.”