Which Payment App Is the Most Popular?

It’s not Apple Pay

CHICAGO -- America’s most popular payment app is not from Apple, Google or Samsung, but from Starbucks.

More than 23 million people ages 14 and older will use the Starbucks app to make a point-of-sale (POS) purchase at least once every six months this year, according to data and research firm eMarketer. During the same period, 22 million people will use Apple Pay. Google Pay and Samsung Pay have about half that, with 11.1 million users and 9.9 million users, respectively, according to eMarketer.

“The Starbucks app is one of the bigger success stories in mobile proximity payments,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu. “It has gained traction thanks to its ability to tie payments to its loyalty rewards program. For users of the app, the value of paying with their smartphone is clear and simple: You can save time and money at the register, all while racking up rewards and special offers.”

Similarly, another recent survey from business site The Manifest found Starbucks is the most popular restaurant loyalty app.

Apple Pay is accepted at more than half of U.S. merchants. And while Apple Pay can’t be used directly at Starbucks POS systems, it can be used through the Starbucks mobile app. Conversely, Samsung Pay has the lowest adoption rate in terms of users, but it is the most widely accepted by merchants, according to eMarketer.

However, these apps face increasing competition each day as retailers continue to release their own versions. “Retailers are increasingly creating their own payment apps, which allow them to capture valuable data about their users. They can also build in rewards and perks to boost customer loyalty,” Liu said.

Also, more U.S. consumers are using payment apps more often. U.S. mobile payment users will grow 14.5% in 2018 to reach 55 million, according to eMarketer.


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