Apple Pay: CEO Tim Cook is big on praise, light on details

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To hear Apple CEO Tim Cook tell it, Apple Pay is experiencing "a phenomenal traction."

What that means in terms of how Apple Pay stacks up against its growing number of competitors in revenue and transactions remains difficult to assess, as the company does not reveal specific numbers about Apple Pay as it relates to those key metrics.

Still, Apple Pay did pull off new launches in Taiwan and Ireland during the quarter, making the NFC mobile wallet live in 15 markets, Cook said May 2 during the company's second quarter earnings call.

"In those markets, there are now more than 20 million contactless-ready locations, including more than 4.5 million in the U.S. alone," Cook said. When Apple cites "locations" it refers to terminals able to accept Apple Pay contactless payments.

Cook pointed to fast growth in Japan, where Apple Pay launched last October, as an example of what can unfold when partners encourage customers to try Apple Pay in new ways.

"More than half a million transit users in Japan are completing 20 million Apple Pay transactions per month," Cook said. And transaction volume in the U.K. rose 450% in the past year, Cook said, though he did not offer specific numbers.

No mention was made of potential new uses for Apple Pay's expected expansion to person-to-person payments.

Speculation was rekindled last week by a report that Apple was considering a P-to-P payment mechanism to rival PayPal's Venmo. The reports also suggested that Apple was talking to Visa about a prepaid card that would be linked to such a P-to-P service.

Overall, Cook's enthusiasm for Apple Pay during the call followed his take on the product since its launch in October of 2014.

Earlier this year, during first-quarter earnings reports, Cook continued to speak enthusiastically about Apple Pay's potential, much of that buoyed by its launch in Japan, Russia, New Zealand and Spain during or prior to that quarter.

A year after its U.S. debut, those who thought Apple Pay might take off strongly compared to other mobile wallets were still waiting for those signals. Consumer and merchant adoption was slow despite a strong show of support from issuers.

In the meantime, several other wallets came on the scene with the likes of Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Chase Pay.

Apple also continues to remain vague about Apple Watch sales, with Cook only saying sales had doubled over the previous year. When it launched, Apple Watch delivered several messaging or health-related features for its users that might resonate more than Apple Pay, but the mobile wallet was still considered an integral link to the watch.

The company reported $52.9 billion in revenue, a 10% increase over the same time period a year earlier at $50.6 billion. Apple sold 50.8 million iPhones for the quarter, compared to 51.1 million the prior year.

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