The Many Ups and Downs of Using Apple Pay



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The last couple of weeks I have been an ‘early adopter’. I can confidently say that as I am the only person I have seen using their Apple iPhone 6 to pay on the bus, train and tube in London. I was so excited when I saw the first poster on the tube saying that you could now pay that way. Ever since they started to accept contactless cards on the Oyster pads, there has been a risk that I will lose my Virgin Atlantic Amex.

I use that because I love the idea of getting air miles for riding the underground – fly in the sky for shuttling under the earth, a lovely transportation palindrome! The problem is that I rarely wear clothes with pockets (not enough skirts and dresses have them), so I am always holding a slippery little card with my phone and it could so easily be dropped.

The iPhone is always in my hand as I’m listening to my music. I did try to fashion storing my card in the back of my phone case – my own primitive version of Apple Pay, but the case blocked it from working. Anyway, problem solved, the phone can now do everything!

I spent the first few days holding up the queues behind me and getting tutted at a lot as I was trying to do the whole process, including the fingerprint authentication at the gate. My experience was revolutionized a couple of days in when, after I had said about the tutting on Twitter, a friend recommended doing the authentication in advance and then just swiping at the gate! This is amazing!

Although you do have to time it right, a couple of times I’ve been too eager and done it at the bottom of the crowded escalators at Green Park which means by the time I get to the gate, I have to do it again. But I’m getting better and soon will be timing it like a pro. Apple Pay has made me realize a few things though:

1) When I set my iPhone up with Touch ID I chose to use my right index finger, I realize now I should have used my thumb as it would have been far quicker for this use

2) I’m far more aware of protecting my fingerprint now – imagine if I catch that finger on a cheese grater or get a staple in it – will it still work?!

3) Battery life is even more important to me – imagine if the battery ran out when I was on a journey across London so I couldn’t swipe out at the end and then get charged the maximum fare! These days I carry an Anker charger with me as I go through at least a battery a day.

4) It’s odd how we distinguish these developments as different things entirely – the fact is that it is just another version of my Amex card, so if worst came to worst and my battery ran out, I would just have to undo my bag, get my purse out and use my card! I had the same thing at Pret when I was buying my lunch last week, I was doing everything right but it wouldn’t work, then I realized it is because only Visa and Mastercard work on contactless at Pret and Amex still needs to be inserted into the card reader.

Funny how a new method of using a product can make us think it is an entirely different product! It’s just a vessel for something we already use – a super convenient one but a vessel all the same. I think this is something that Marketeers should remember about digital in general.

It is easy to get confused and think that all these new social media platforms and apps are really complicated. But the fact is that they are just new channels to use to communicate with your consumers – something that we have always and will always do.

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