In addition to talking about the Apple Watch, Apple CEO Tim Cook also addressed a different new Apple product during his interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday at the WSJD conference in Laguna Beach, California — Apple Pay. The exec said that the contactless payments service, currently available only in the U.S. and only on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, is already more popular than everything else available from competitors, even though Apple Pay has only been active for a week.
“Visa and MasterCard. We talked to these guys today, and they told us that if you sum up everyone else that’s in contact-less mobile payments at the point of sale, we’re already number one,” Cook said. “We’re more than the total of the other guys.”
The exec revealed that over 1 million credit cards were activated on Apple Pay in the first three days following its launch, an impressive number considering that only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the U.S. can offer this functionality —although Apple Pay does work in international markets as well, users must have access to U.S.-issued credit cards to activate it.
Even though Apple Pay already appears to be more popular than competing services, including Google’s own NFC payments initiative, not all retailers are anxious to jump onboard with it. In fact, Apple Pay already has strong opposition from a group of retailers that includes Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, Rite Aid, and others, which are interested in deploying their own smartphone-based payment tool that can be used not only to remove the credit card from the payment process but also to track shopping habits.
“I think it’s a skirmish,” Cook said about CVS’ and Rite Aid’s decisions to remove Apple Pay support from their stores over the weekend. “We have a lot more to go. We have a lot of merchants to sign up. We have a lot more banks to sign up. And we have the whole rest of the world. We are only in the U.S. right now.”
The exec further added that “over the long arc of time,” retailers will have to do what their customers want. Cook also said that Apple Pay is more secure than other solutions, and could protect users from data breaches — the exec added that changing your cards a few times a year is a “pain in the butt,” admitting he also had to do it twice this year.
Similarly, he also again emphasized Apple Pay’s privacy features. “We’re not Big Brother,” Cook said. “We’ll leave that to others.”
Interestingly, during the same event, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said he’ll talk to Apple about an Apply Pay-Alipay partnership — Alipay is Ma’s own payments company.