Cash, Credit or Apple Pay?

A quick run-down of big brands that are jumping on Apple Pay early.
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A quick run-down of big brands that are jumping on Apple Pay early.
Whole Foods.jpg

If you haven’t heard, Apple Pay is the biggest thing since the iPhone, or the iPod, or since the invention of debit cards, depending on who you ask. But ask anybody about what the long-term implications are for a touchless payment system built into your mobile device and protected by a thumb scanner, then look no further than Apple Pay.

In fact, Apple Pay and similar payment methods are poised to revolutionize how we do everyday tasks like grocery shopping or checking into a hotel or shopping at the mall. And by skimming a mere 0.10% of the transactions, Apple could be poised to rake in ba-jillions of dollars. This could also have implications for advertisers and media companies as content and commerce continue to collide.

One might think that major retailers would flock to a payment method that takes credit card information out of their hands, thus making them less vulnerable to the types of hacks that hit Target and Home Depot recently, however Target is actively blocking Apple Pay at its stores. Target, along with a consortium of other retailers including Warmart, K-Mart, Lowes, Best Buy, 7-Eleven, CVS, and Rite Aid have joined forces to launch a rival near-field payment system called CurrentC.

So we could be looking at the beginnings of a genuine VHS-vs-Betamax square-off between Apple Pay and CurrentC with major retailers placing bets and taking sides. There’s also Google Wallet out there competing for transactions.

Here’s a quick run-down of big brands that have decided to cast their lot with Apple Pay.

McDonald’s — You can act like you’re too good for McDonald’s, but those new jalapeño doubles are the jam. Now with Apple Pay in “virtually all” of the 14,000 McDonalds in America, your morning McGriddles can be yours without cash or card. Just wave your iPhone 6 at the register, and that McRib is all yours. And yes, it will work at the drive-thru window, too.

Whole Foods — Just barely two weeks into the launch of Apple Pay at Whole Foods, the iPhone payment system already accounts for 1% of Whole Foods’ revenue. That’s a lot of early adopters buying a lot of organic carrots.

Macy’s — The legacy department store chain was one of the first to introduce Apple Pay in its stores because Macy’s already had NFC scanners installed to process cards with chips. Bloomingdales is also an early adopter of Apple Pay with Nordstrom scheduled to come online later this year.

Panera — Executives at Panera are thrilled about Apple Pay’s security features, especially since it means that Panera will never be in possession of the customer’s credit card information. Because Apple Pay generates a one-time unique code per transaction that isn’t worth hacking, it greatly reduces liability to Panera and its 1,800 locations.

Starbucks — Of course Starbucks is lined up for Apple Pay, and of course Starbucks is planning to do things a little differently than anyone else. The word is that Starbucks will integrate Apple Pay into their pre-existing Starbucks Card app, so Apple Pay will just be a way for customers to re-charge their in-app credits.

Chase Bank — Chase kept its partnership with Apple Pay secret until Tim Cook announced it on stage in California. At the same time, at a Chase presentation in New York, JP Morgan Chase’s CFO Marianne Lake was signaled that it was OK to announce the bank’s partnership with Apple when a deputy placed a green apple on a table on the stage, prompting Ms. Lake to say: ”So we are very excited about Apple Pay, and Chase customers will be able to participate in that.” Chase isn’t the only bank signed up to process Apple Pay transactions; here’s a full list.

OpenTable — For those who know, OpenTable is an app that lets you pay your restaurant bill with your smartphone, so it’s a natural for integration with Apple Pay. For now, Apple Pay-powered OpenTable is only available in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., but the company plans to be in a total of 20 cities before the end of the year.

Staples — Since Apple began selling its products at Staples last year, the two companies have been working closely together. So it’s no surprise that Apple Pay is now available in the 1,400 Staples stores across the US.

Subway — Apple told the press that Subway had signed up to integrate Apple Pay in its 26,000 sandwich shops across America, but Subway itself isn’t quite ready to announce its next-generation payment plans to the world.

Uber & Lyft — Your favorite ride-sharing apps are now integrated with Apple Pay. Uber brags that integrating Apple Pay into its new updated app is as simple as a single thumb tap. If you have a credit card registered with Apple Pay, Uber will recognize it and send a car to pick you up. Lyft users need to go into the “Payment” section of the Lyft app to activate Apple Pay. After that, it will be your default payment method.

In total, nearly three dozen businesses have signed up to support Apple Pay, including pharmacies like Walgreens and Duane Reade; sports stores like Nike, Foot Locker, Sports Authority and Foot Action; gas stations like Texaco and Chevron; the Toys R Us brands and all things Disney