Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

PYMNTS Survey Finds Apple Pay Is the Most Popular Mobile Wallet, Yet Only About 6% of People With iPhones Use It In‍-‍Store

Karen Webster of PYMNTS:1

Seven years post-launch, new PYMNTS data shows that 93.9% of consumers with Apple Pay activated on their iPhones do not use it in-store to pay for purchases.

That means only 6.1% do.

That finding is based on PYMNTS’ national study of 3,671 U.S. consumers conducted between Aug. 3-10, 2021.

After seven years, Apple Pay’s adoption and usage isn’t much larger than it was 2015 (5.1%), a year after its launch, and is the same as it was in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

If you had asked me, before I read this article, how many iPhone users I thought make payments in stores using Apple Pay, I am not sure what I would have guessed — but I think it would have been more than six percent. PYMNTS’ own stats from last year indicate that about eight percent use Apple Pay in-store. Either way, it seems remarkably low, especially for U.S. consumers. But there are some interesting takeaways from this survey, especially if you pair it with an analysis last February showing that around five percent of all card transactions worldwide were being made through Apple Pay.

This survey shows an approximately flat use rate from 2019 through 2021, down slightly from 2018. Webster writes that the pandemic ought to have “changed the trajectory of Apple Pay” as “contactless and touchless have become the consumer’s checkout mantra”. But anyone with a Face ID-equipped iPhone can tell you that wearing a mask requires you to authenticate by using your passcode, so it has been far easier for the past eighteen months to simply tap a card. That is probably true generally, as well; Apple Pay may have better privacy and security, but it is no easier to use than a card that supports tap to pay, even without the added complication of pandemic precautions.

If U.S. consumers are using Apple Pay infrequently, how does that square with the study from last year showing huge numbers of card transactions flowing through the service? Well, the PYMNTS survey does not cover the use of Apple Pay on websites or in apps, and I bet the latter represents an overwhelming volume. I would love to see a similar survey for online purchases.

The last mystery for me in the PYMNTS survey was the discrepancy between the number of users who have set up Apple Pay compared to the number who are actually using it. That can be explained by the iPhone’s setup process, which prompts users to add a credit card to Apple Pay. Given how much emphasis the screen’s design puts on setting up Apple Pay and how much iOS bugs you later if you do not add a card, I would not be surprised if many people set it up just to shut it up.


  1. What a silly name. It is like they hate vowels or something, he wrote at pxlnv.com. ↩︎