Starbucks has long held the title of the most popular mobile payment platform in the United States. New data from eMarketer now shows that Apple Pay has surpassed Starbucks in the US as adoption of Apple’s platform continues to grow.

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Starbucks adopted mobile payments relatively early on, and incentivized users with rewards and features such as ordering ahead. As such, Apple Pay and other mobile payment platforms have largely been playing catch up with Starbucks until now.

According to the eMarketer data, Apple Pay will reach 30.3 million users in the United States during 2019. Starbucks, on the other hand, will have 25.2 million users this year, followed by Google Pay at 12.1 million and Samsung Pay at 10.8 million.

eMarketer explains that Apple Pay has benefited from wider adoption of new point-of-sale systems with NFC built-in. The Starbucks app-based payment system uses barcodes rather than NFC, and thus it wasn’t affected by the slow roll out of new POS systems in the United States.

Starbucks itself has also adopted Apple Pay support in-store and in-app. For instance, in the Starbucks mobile app, you can use Apple Pay to reload your Starbucks virtual card.

One interesting thing to point out is that Google Pay and Samsung Pay are largely splitting the Android mobile payment market. If you combined the two, they would have over 20 million users, and also be nearing Starbucks:

“Apple Pay has benefited from the spread of new point-of-sale (POS) systems that work with the NFC signals Apple Pay runs on,” said eMarketer principal analyst Yory Wurmser. “The same trend should also help Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but they will continue to split the Android market.”

The data also suggests that total spending with mobile payments will near $100 billion this year, up more than 24% compared to 2018.

Total spending via proximity mobile payments will approach $100 billion this year in the US. That means that on average, a user will spend $1,545 per year using proximity mobile payments, up more than 24% over last year. Overall, the total number of people using proximity mobile payments in the US this year will grow 9.1% to 64.0 million. That represents nearly 30% of all US smartphone users.

Apple itself has heavily touted Apple Pay growth recently. During Apple’s last earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple Pay growth has surpassed PayPal in terms of transaction volume and new user growth. Apple will report its Q4 2019 earnings on October 30.

You can read the full press release below. Do you use Apple Pay on a regular basis? Let us know down in the comments!

Apple Pay Overtakes Starbucks as Top Mobile Payment App in the US

Nearly 30% of US smartphone users will use a mobile payment app

October 23, 2019 (New York, NY) – For the first time, a generic mobile payment app is more popular than the Starbucks mobile app, which had long led the category despite being specific to one retailer. Apple Pay became the market leader last year, when 27.7 million Americans used the app to make a purchase.

Since our last mobile payments forecast in May 2018, Apple Pay use has grown even faster than expected. In 2019, Apple Pay will have 30.3 million users in the US, representing 47.3% of proximity mobile payment users. Following closely behind, the Starbucks app will have 25.2 million users this year, representing 39.4% of proximity mobile payment users.

“Apple Pay has benefited from the spread of new point-of-sale (POS) systems that work with the NFC signals Apple Pay runs on,” said eMarketer principal analyst Yory Wurmser. “The same trend should also help Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but they will continue to split the Android market.”

Technology for proximity mobile payments is gaining traction, especially at frequently used retailers like grocery stores. According to Digital Trends, Apple Pay is expected to be available in 70% of US retailers by the end of 2019. The strong uptake prompted eMarketer to revise its figures upward. And while the Starbucks app has enjoyed around a 40% market share of mobile payments users for a few years, its growth potential is more limited since it can only be used at Starbucks stores.

Total spending via proximity mobile payments will approach $100 billion this year in the US. That means that on average, a user will spend $1,545 per year using proximity mobile payments, up more than 24% over last year.

Overall, the total number of people using proximity mobile payments in the US this year will grow 9.1% to 64.0 million. That represents nearly 30% of all US smartphone users.

“With in-store payments, there is a need for convenience that proximity payments are increasingly fulfilling,” said eMarketer junior forecasting analyst Vincent Yip. “Although a growing number of millennials feel secure using payment apps, virtually all still find credit and debit cards equally convenient.”

Although the use of proximity mobile payments is growing among all age groups, US adults ages 25 to 34 are the largest demographic in terms of absolute size and penetration, with 21.2 million users, or nearly 50% of all smartphone users in this age group. The fastest growth is among Americans ages 55 to 64 but from a small base.

Methodology

eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

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