Target Exec Says Apple Pay Not A Breakthrough

As the hoopla over Apple Pay wanes, skepticism is beginning to set in — even among executives at big retail chains that will be rolling out Apple’s new payment system later this month. On Tuesday (Oct. 7), Target director of finance Bill Ramsey told a conference audience that Apple Pay isn’t a breakthrough — and may not even be an improvement over plastic payment cards, Internet Retailer reported.

“Payment is just one small event in the series of decisions that is everyday life,” Ramsey said at the 2014 Mobile Payments Conference in Chicago. Apple Pay has to do more than replace cash and plastic to qualify as a breakthrough, he said, and if it doesn’t offer consumers added value or convenience, it’s not really an improvement.

The Target executive’s comments came the day after a Pizza Hut digital VP told an audience at a different conference that he was “more pessimistic about Apple Pay’s impact than most people here.”

Target currently plans to use Apple Pay on its website, and the chain upgraded its in-store mobile point-of-sale devices to iPod Touches this summer. The retailer has also let customers use gift cards in its stores through their smartphones for several years, so Target has some experience with customers’ enthusiasm — or lack of it — for paying in-store with phones.

But Target is also involved with the Walmart-led Merchant Customer Exchange group, which is testing its own mobile wallet and payment system dubbed CurrentC. Because retailers have greater control over the system itself, incorporating features beyond simple payment into the system will be easier, Ramsey said.