Is Apple Pay Really More Popular Than the Starbucks Mobile App?

October 25, 2019

According to an October report published by eMarketer, a respected online publication dedicated to the digital marketing industry, the mobile payments service known as Apple Pay is now more popular than its counterpart developed by the Starbucks Coffee Company. Since about 2014, the Starbucks app, which started off as a digital version of its successful gift and rewards card, had been the most widely used mobile payments platform in the United States, but statistics crunched by eMarketer indicate that this is no longer the case.

Top Mobile Payment Apps

More than 27 million purchase transactions and payments were settled with Apple Pay in 2018, a figure that eMarketer expects will increase to 30.3 million by the end of 2019, thus representing a 47.3% share of the “contactless” or Near Field Communications (NFC) payments market. It should be noted that Apple Pay is accepted at Starbucks, whereas the Starbucks mobile app only works at the company’s retail locations equipped with NFC point-of-sale terminals.

The holiday shopping season happens to be very busy for Starbucks, particularly with its pumpkin spice flavors and often controversial choice of coffee cup designs, but this will not allow the company to retake its place atop the mobile payments totem pole. The number of active Google Pay users, who are those making at least one NFC payment within a six-month period, will climb to 12.1 million, less than half of Starbucks mobile app users, who can easily be assumed to be even more active because such is the nature of delicious caffeinated beverages and tasty gourmet treats. Samsung Pay comes in at third place with 10.8%, just a sliver of the market share it holds in places such as South Korea.

Both Companies Benefit

For payment processing analysts, comparing Apple Pay to the Starbucks app is an apples to oranges situation. While it is true that Apple now commands nearly 50% of the American NFC payments market, Starbucks is the true leader because this is a mobile app that can be installed in iOS and Android devices; in fact, it worked on Windows Mobile devices until about 2017. As for Apple Pay, the popularity of the iPhone is what is really boosting this digital wallet, and it could be argued that the Apple Card, which is a very recent product still being rolled out, will likely enhance Apple Pay.

It could be argued that the new Apple Card could very well be the factor that can realistically propel Apple Pay past Starbucks. There is one thing that coffee lovers enjoy as much as coffee itself, and that is being rewarded for their good taste; this is where the Starbucks mobile app excels, and it is what the Apple Card is going for. The current cash-back rewards program offered to Apple Card holders is pretty standard; should Apple spice it up with greater rewards for using the card in conjunction with Apple Pay, it would entice greater use of this iOS digital wallet. In the end, providers of payment processing services stand to benefit from this competition.

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