It’s been almost a year and a half since Apple debuted its Apple Pay mobile payments platform. The service was launched in October 2014 shortly after the release of the iPhone 6. It allows anyone with the device and a compatible debit or credit card account to make contactless payments simply by hovering their device over an NFC-compatible payments terminal.
Shortly after the release of Apple Pay, everyone from Walmart to Target, and of course, Samsung and Google, wanted to get in on the mobile payments action. Currently the three biggest mobile payment competitors are Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. Samsung has publicly stated that its Samsung Pay service now has 5 million monthly users, but it’s never been known how many active monthly users Apple Pay and Android Pay have.
Until now, that is. Bloomberg Business reports that mobile-payment researcher Crone Consulting has issued a report that breaks down mobile payments by provider. The study looked at the big three: Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. It found that Apple Pay is the clear winner as far as active monthly users goes, saying the service has over 12 million people regularly using it each month. As for Android Pay, it matches Samsung Pay’s 5 million monthly users, Crone Consulting says.
Upon first glance those numbers would appear to be music to Apple’s ears, but Crone Consulting says that they actually reveal stiff competition for Apple’s mobile payment service. That’s because both Android Pay and Samsung Pay launched almost a year after Apple Pay did. That suggests the two services are adding users more quickly than Apple Pay is. If that rate continues, Android Pay and Samsung Pay could pass Apple Pay usage within a year.
Samsung Pay might be the best positioned to do so because in addition to NFC contactless terminal, users can make purchases as traditional magnetic-stripe card terminals thanks to Samsung Pay’s incorporation of Loop technology—a company it bought in 2015—that allows a Samsung phone to mimic a magnetic-stripe card. This means Samsung Pay theoretically works at every payment terminal in the world, where Apple Pay only works at NFC terminals.
Still, the growth rate of each service could change rapidly as tech companies release more devices that are compatible with their mobile payment solutions. Currently only 6% of users with Apple Pay-enabled iPhones use the service. For Samsung Pay, only 4% of users with compatible devices use the service. And for Android Pay, a paltry 1% of users with compatible devices use the service.
All three companies are no doubt hoping that changes, however. As Bloomberg notes, Forrester Research estimates mobile payments will top $142 billion a year by 2019—and everyone involved wants as big a piece of that pie as they can get.