As exciting the technology behind mobile payment systems may be, their limited availability, mostly to the US and the UK, makes them less interesting for people who live and travel abroad. While the US is mostly the litmus test of such nascent trends, when it comes to money and transactions, you’ll need to cover the whole world. Or at least most of it. That is probably one of the reasons why Apple and American Express are expanding their operations to bring Apple Pay to five new countries by next year.
Apple Pay naturally launched first in the US and it was only a few months ago before it broke ground in the UK. According to the report earnings filed by Tim Cook, that list will soon grow to include Australia and Canada later this year, with Hong Kong, Spain, and Singapore to join sometime next year.
Like many mobile payment systems, Apple Pay requires the use of NFC, which some have credited to be the cause of the slow adoption rate of mobile payment in general. The combined requirement of purchasing new equipment and upgrading old systems may be daunting to merchants, especially small ones. Still, there is some hope that with Apple now in the game, many more might be convinced to play as well.
That said, Apple Pay can also be used for other transactions that can be done entirely on the mobile device, like paying for items or services in apps like Target, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb. These might be more useful in those countries were mobile payment systems, and hence NFC-based terminals might even be rarer.
Apple hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about adoption rates of Apple Pay itself, not to mention how well it would be received by merchants in those countries. The silence has even led some to speculate that after an initial spurt, Apple Pay’s growth may have slowed down substantially. It doesn’t help that Apple Pay’s international journey so far only includes American Express, which, compared with Visa and MasterCard, is considered to be the smallest of the three.