But many customers are still hesitant to whip out their cell phones when paying. The figures recently published by credit card issuer Bonuscard show that 100 days after the launch of Apple Pay in Switzerland, the service has not yet become part of everyday life.
Growth at a low level
In this country, only a few thousand Bonuscard customers pay by smartphone every day. Two-thirds of all mobile payments are made in grocery stores. Just under a quarter of transactions are made in restaurants. Bonuscard - like Cornèrcard, which is affiliated with Bank Cornèr - claims to have around half a million customers. Only around one percent of these have so far used their cell phones for payments.
However, the trend is clearly upward. Every week, the number of registrations of Bonuscard customers with Apple Pay increases by an average of 14 percent. No estimates are yet available from the prepaid card providers Swissbankers and Valora, but penetration is likely to be similar.
Major banks rely on Twint
On the banking side, apart from Bank Cornèr, only Graubündner Kantonalbank has used Apple Pay so far. On Tuesday, Bank Linth was added to the list. While customers of Graubündner Kantonalbank will have access to Apple Pay via the prepaid Mastercard from Swissbankers, Bank Linth is building on its long-standing partnership with Cornèrcard. The five largest Swiss banks, on the other hand, do not want to know anything about Apple Pay for the time being and are instead relying on the joint product Twint. In May, the new Twint app was said to be launched in the fall. In September, Twint CEO Thierry Kneissler then spoke of mid-January as a realistic roll-out date. Apparently, merging the Twint and Paymit systems, which are still operating separately on the market today, is technically more complex than initially thought.
The race is open
Whether Twint will be able to establish itself as a national standard alongside Apple Pay is currently an open question. The broad support base speaks in favor of Twint. In addition to the major banks UBS, Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, Zürcher Kantonalbank and Postfinance, the retail giants Migros and Coop, the telecommunications provider Swisscom and the financial services provider SIX are also on board as acquirers. Moreover, the use of Twint is not limited to Apple products; the app works independently of the operating system. And while Apple Pay functions as a classic credit card transaction, Twint goes much further in its scope of application. Pilot tests with the integration of customer cards, discount offers and pick-up services are underway.
However, the connection technology could become a stumbling block for Twint. Apple has so far denied other app developers access to the NFC interface on its devices. Only Apple Pay is allowed to communicate via Near Field Communication (NFC). Yet the international NFC standard would be the fastest and simplest technology. It is already used at payment terminals for contactless payment with credit cards. Twint, on the other hand, will have to resort to the less common Bluetooth technology or QR codes until further notice. The fact that Switzerland is a real iPhone country also plays into Apple's hands. Every second smartphone in this country comes from the Cupertino-based company. And internationally, the IT giant is ahead of the game anyway. In addition to the USA, the UK and Switzerland, the service is now also available in France and Hong Kong. Other countries are to follow, including Japan soon. Twint, on the other hand, does not yet have any concrete plans to expand abroad. Nevertheless, the company has already obtained the approval of the EU competition authority as a precautionary measure. (SDA)