Apple Pay is seeing a surge in U.S. bank support, with the number of participating banks rising past 900 with the recent addition of 60 regional and community banks, bringing it closer to full coverage in its home market. But Apple isn't having the same luck everywhere else.
Banks in Canada, Australia and most European markets continue to resist Apple's advances, despite Apple's mobile wallet being considered a must-have feature by industry analysts.
One likely reason is that banks outside the U.S. aren't interested in paying Apple's fees, which are said to be 10 to 15 basis points per transaction. Many U.S. banks agreed to pay the toll when the service launched in October 2014, but many did so reluctantly, with one Citizens Bank exec openly declaring Apple's terms to be "the most one-sided agreement I have ever seen."
So far, the only big welcome Apple Pay has received outside the U.S. is in the U.K., where the largest banks launched Apple Pay in mid-2015. One notable exception is Barclays, which still doesn't support Apple Pay, but observers expect it will come on board this year.
In Canada, only American Express—which has about 7% of Canada's credit card market—supports Apple Pay, and observers say there's no indication Canadian banks are eager to embrace it anytime soon. Meanwhile, Canada's biggest banks, including RBC, are moving forward with proprietary mobile wallets.
The situation is similar in Australia, where only American Express supports Apple Pay. Though Australia's largest banks have reportedly have been in discussions with Apple for months, there has been no apparent movement. Meanwhile, several of Australia's major banks last month agreed to support Android Pay.
"Apart from the U.K. banks where they made deals, Apple appears to be finding it harder to negotiate with banks outside the U.S.," said Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent.
And, in light of Apple Pay's lackluster consumer adoption, Apple may find it difficult to replicate the deals it cut with U.S. banks when those contracts expire, he said. "U.S. banks will be looking not just at the international experience, but also at Visa's Digital Enablement Program and MasterCard's Digital Enablement Express and will be seeking terms [for Apple Pay] comparable to other digital wallets," he said.
Apple's success with banks in the U.S. is due largely to the company's efforts to work with several early partners ahead of the mobile wallet's formal launch in October 2014. With major partners like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and U.S. Bank already on board, many banks and credit unions scrambled to sign up with Apple to get the same early-mover advantage. Some issuers held out for various reasons — they wanted an Android equivalent, or they wanted Apple Pay to launch in more markets — but they have since come on board.
"Apple did a good job of signing up banks in the U.S., and while 900 is still considerably short of full coverage, in terms of cards and purchasing volume, they are pretty much there," Bareisis said.
U.S. banks are eager to support digital payments, and Apple Pay plays into their strategies. Bareisis noted. In a recent survey Celent conducted of a cross-section of U.S. banks, 60% of banks said they had launched Apple Pay, while 77% of larger banks with assets above $10 billion had adopted it. Another 27% of banks in Celent's survey said they were actively planning to add Apple Pay, and 5% said they had no plans to do so.
Apple Pay rival Samsung Pay, meanwhile, has big plans for global expansion. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, Samsung announced that its wallet will roll out in Australia, Brazil and Singapore, in addition to the U.K., Spain and China, which it previously announced. The company didn't say when Samsung Pay would be available in these new markets.
Samsung Pay launched in the U.S. and South Korea in September 2015, and in most markets has deals with local banks to support it.
Google's Android Pay, which also launched in September 2015, still has a bit of a journey ahead to reach the level of bank support Apple enjoys. Apart from American Express and Discover, which are among the major card networks supporting Android Pay, only 10 U.S. banks — including Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo — have adopted it so far. JPMorgan Chase & Co., for example, does not yet support Android Pay.
Consumers whose banks don't support Android Pay can download the app to use with a card already on file with Google Wallet. Banks eager to drive payment volume, however, would have an advantage by making Android Pay directly available to cardholders, with the hope that these users would make it their default payment option, analysts note.