With a requirement of being able to accept NFC at all stores right away, it’s not surprising that the list of retailers with no plans to immediately support Apple Pay is huge. Add to that fact that some chains have competitive reasons to shun Apple Pay (yes, I am looking at you, MCX-founder Walmart) and others have a clientele that is not particularly mobile-enthralled and still others have a corporate culture that avoids being among the first to test out a new technology and there are plenty of reasons for being on such a not-initially-supporting-Apple Pay list.
The Daily Dot has compiled such a list, although it’s far from complete. (Think it’s easy to be comprehensive? Go ahead and try to compile a list of everyone who is not using something. It’s rather exhausting trying to be exhaustive.) Among the non-initial backers cited: Best Buy, H&M, Coach, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sears, Kmart, BP, Publix, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.
Of all of the reasons cited for avoiding the initial Apple Pay splash, the most likely reason—other than the lack of current NFC support in many stores—is the lack of immediate ROI. As MPD CEO Karen Webster pointed out Friday (Oct. 10), the numbers reflect that an impressively small number of shoppers will even be able to use Apple Pay any time soon. How many will even have the newest payment-ready iPhones—and will have installed the as-yet-not-released iOS version that supports Apple Pay—that can ring up such transactions? How many of those will think to try the new behavior—and you know how much American consumers love to leave their comfort zones and try out new behavior, especially during hectic holiday shopping? How many will have these thoughts and inclinations when they happen to be standing in a store that can support it?
The math suggests that the return-on-investment calculation may be daunting, when retailers crunch how much effort and money Apple Pay support will cost versus how many transactions it will actually likely deliver. That’s not at all an indictment of Apple Pay’s prospects—which are indeed quite rosy—but merely a realistic look at how the first few months are likely to go.
A Mac Rumors story on the Daily Dot list pointed out something in Apple Pay’s numerical favor. “It’s important to note that even if a retailer does not explicitly state that it offers support for Apple Pay, the Apple Pay payments system will work in any retail store that allows contactless payments via NFC. Many modern point-of-sale (PoS) systems come with NFC capabilities, and Apple is counting on regulatory changes that will require merchants to update their payment hardware over the course of the next year,” Mac Rumors said.
The regulatory reference was to imminent EMV incentives. Although that won’t explicitly support NFC, it will push a lot of retailers to upgrade POS systems and almost all such new systems will also support NFC.
Most of the chains who commented for the Daily Dot piece didn’t say anything negative about Apple Pay, but merely suggested that they wouldn’t be one of the first out of the gate. Typical was a quote attributed to BP spokesperson Scott Dean: BP “won’t be in a position to do this in 2014, but we’re working with our marketers (BP gas stations are independently owned and operated) to upgrade our retail site technology progressively over the next two years and as part of those upgrades we will be setting ourselves up to be ready for mobile payments.”
Will Apple Pay be a major retail payment factor for the holiday season? Almost certainly. It just won’t be 2014’s holiday season.