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Tim Cook is right: Contactless payments are more popular than ever

One report found that 2020 is the year mobile payments will surpass both cash and credit card payments in the number of transactions.

Tim Cook is right: Contactless payments are more popular than ever
[Photo: Clay Banks/Unsplash]
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Yesterday Apple, the world’s largest tech company by market cap, had its quarterly financial call. While most of the call, as you would expect, was about hardware sales, Apple CEO Tim Cook made an interesting comment about how the pandemic is increasing the adoption of one specific type of tech in the United States: contactless mobile payments. Per Cook (via MacRumors):

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As you can imagine in this environment, people are less wont to hand over a card. Contactless payment has taken on a different level of adoption and I don’t think we’ll go back. The United States has been lagging in contactless payments and I think the pandemic may very well put the U.S. on a different trajectory there. We are very bullish on this area and there are more things that Apple can do in this space so this is an area of great interest to us.

And Cook would know. According to an analysis of different studies and data by fintech company Capital on Tap, Apple’s Apple Pay contactless payment solution is the third largest in the world by userbase, at 441 million users. China’s Alipay is ranked No. 1 with 1.2 billion users, followed closely by China’s WeChat at No. 2 with 1.15 billion users. Google Pay and Samsung Pay round out the top five with 100 million users each.

As far as countries go, unsurprisingly, China is the country with the highest adoption of mobile contactless payments. Forty-seven percent of the population uses the tech. Norway is a close second at 42%, followed by the United Kingdom (24%), Japan (20%), and Australia (19%). Right now, the United States stands in seventh place, with 17% of the population using mobile payments. However, if Cook’s comments are correct (and given that Apple Pay is the third most-popular mobile payment system in the world, he should know), the U.S. could soon leapfrog Columbia, Australia, and maybe even Japan to become the fourth-placed country where mobile contactless payment adoption is the highest.

No matter what though, mobile contactless payments are certain to only increase in the coming years. One report found that 2020 is the year mobile payments will surpass both cash and credit card payments in the number of transactions, and by 2022 mobile payments will be within a hair’s breadth of the number-one payment choice, debit cards.

And the longer the pandemic continues, the more likely it is that mobile payment adoption only accelerates.