CUPERTINO, Calif.—By year end, Apple Pay will be the most popular mobile payment method for U.S. shoppers, according to Retaildive.com. Apple's payment app will have 30.3 million U.S. users, compared with 25.2 million for the popular Starbucks payment app, estimates eMarketer, a research firm. Apple Pay also will be more widely used in the U.S. than other POS methods, such as Google Pay (12.1 million) and Samsung Pay (10.8 million).
Mobile payment services are growing with the broader adoption of in-store systems that work securely with the near-field communications (NFC) chips in smartphones. Known as proximity mobile payments or contactless payments, these services are expected to double to $220 billion in the U.S. by 2023 from $98.9 billion this year. In addition, people using smartphones to make in-store payments will grow 9.1% this year to 64 million, or 30% of all U.S. smartphone users, eMarketer predicts.
Compared to other parts of the globe—such as Europe and China—the United States has been slow to adopt contactless mobile payments. eMarketer's research suggests that growth is picking up as more stores add the technology to their POS systems. For years, the U.S. built up the infrastructure to handle debit and credit card payments, making them an easy alternative to cash and checks. But, tech-savvy young adults who grew up with smartphones are enthusiastic about making mobile payments.
Starbucks has been the pioneer in rolling out contactless payment methods for the U.S., offering millions of people their first experience with in-store payments. Starbucks Pay is a proprietary payment system that gives the chain more control over purchase data, and it is still growing. But Walmart has also been a leader by creating its own payments app that's integrated with in-store payments and online orders for delivery and pickup.
Launched five years ago, Apple Pay is expected to be available in 70% of U.S. retailers by the end of this year, per eMarketer. That should help the company grow its payments business, especially after the recent launch of its Apple Card in a partnership with Goldman Sachs.