NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It's quite likely that in a few years, pulling out a credit card – embedded chip or not – will seem like a quaint, old-fashioned way to make a payment. Mobile payment tools, while currently the purview of mostly early adopters, are set to transform the payment process -- offering convenience and advanced security. It's also likely that a late arrival to the payment party will soon be the toast of the technology.
Apply Pay, a payment option available for less than three months, is already poised to overtake the transaction volume of Google Wallet – a fledgling effort launched in 2011. ITG Investment Research estimates that with its current adoption pace, Apple Pay could top Google's market share by the end of next month.
But more importantly, Apple Pay could "pose a major threat" to the mobile payment kingpin, PayPal, according to ITG. Despite the fact that Apple Pay is still vertically bound to serve just its own customers and is supported by a "relatively limited list of merchants," the new service has advantages that PayPal may not be able to overcome.
Analyst Steve Weinstein believes that PayPal suffers from "a challenging relationship with payment counterparties" and can't offer the biometric security capabilities that Apple Pay can. Apple Pay also has the power of the brand's affinity and an ease of use that will be difficult for competitors to overcome.
The security issue is key. As consumers become more concerned about cyber theft and payment hacks, authorizing financial transactions with a quick biometric confirmation – using a fingerprint, voice command or other personally-identifying authentication – may well become commonplace. That's an area where Apple has a big head start on the field of mobile payment providers.
ITG research, based on interviews with a proprietary consumer panel, discovered other signs of growing Apple adoption. Fully 60% of new users triggered Apple Pay mobile payments on multiple days in November, while new PayPal customers used the service on multiple days during the same time period just 20% of the time. Apple Pay customers used the service roughly 1.4 times per week during the period -- and at the same merchant for future transactions roughly two-thirds of the time. And once they use it, average Apple Pay consumers use the service for about 5.3% of all future card transactions and 2.3% of all future card dollars spent.
Perhaps most telling, the top five Apple Pay retailers are businesses with a high volume of repeat business. According to ITG, in November those top-volume merchants were: Whole Foods, Walgreens, McDonald's, Panera Bread and Subway.
--Hal M. Bundrick is a Certified Financial Planner and contributor to MainStreet. Follow him on Twitter: @HalMBundrick