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Guest post: Apple Pay is just making things worse

Guest post: Apple Pay is just making things worse

Nothing is easier and cards are still better

You’ve paid for things before, right? You pull out your card, you’re prompted (to swipe, insert or tap), you follow the prompts, and within moments you’re on your way. It almost comes as second nature. Have you ever left a store thinking to yourself, “How much did I just spend on that?” Exactly. Buying things is so easy you're running on subconscious auto-pilot.

Enter Apple Pay.

Let me preface this by saying I’m a huge tech fan. I love gadgets and technology and I love playing with anything new [Editor's note—there is literally a drawer full of phones and tablets at his desk]. So when Apple Pay finally arrived in Canada, I was excited by the prospect and ready to give it a try as soon as possible. 

In the end, the experience felt clunky and unpolished, and I was met with nothing more than novelty. 

Let’s break this down. 

I bought coffee twice today. The first time, Apple Pay worked without a hitch—exactly as I expected—but the second time was far worse.

I walked up to the cashier and asked if they accepted “tap" (it was only then I could decide which pocket to reach in). When the cashier said yes, I pulled out my phone to get things started. I shouldn't have.

I had to try it twice. The first time I tapped didn’t seem to work, and the credit card machine gave me some obscure error message. The second time I got a receipt from Apple Pay, but the same error message from the machine. There was a line behind me, so I gave up, put my phone away, and went back to good old-fashioned plastic. Tap. Accepted. Done.

Apple Pay in a nutshell

  • We still have to carry credit cards at all times. Apple Pay might fail. 
  • It's an unnecessary (and non-trivial) increase in cognitive load. Why turn off the ol' autopilot? Plastic just works.
  • It was a generally unpleasant experience, and it ended with the very real possibility I was charged twice for my already-overpriced coffee.

As it is, only about half the places I go accept contactless payments in the first place, and it seems like the transaction limit varies arbitrarily between retailers. I’m sure it will get better with time, but it’s going to be a long while before I can leave my wallet at home.

Apple Pay is cool, but for now, I just don’t see the benefit.

Dan Betcher is a web developer, friend of the site, and a god-damned wizard with HTML. 

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