Is Apple Pay Already a Top 5 eCommerce Payment Platform?

Apple PayAbout a week ago a number of web sites featured articles proclaiming Apple Pay on the Web to be the 5th biggest payment platform used by the most popular ecommerce websites. This seemed incredible, given that Apple Pay on the Web launched about 2 months ago and only works with Safari on macOS Sierra and iOS 10… so, I thought I’d delve into it a little for discussion.

All the sites that ran with the Apple Pay on the Web article cite a common source: SimilarTech, which bills itself as “a website profiler, lead generation, competitive analysis and business intelligence tool.” I’d never heard of them before, but they appear to be the real deal, and there is no reason to doubt their data or statistical analysis.


SimilarTech’s Payment Technologies page allows one to look at the market share data in terms of the top 10 thousand, 100 thousand, 1 million or all ecommerce websites. The market share view that all the sites cited was the view that has Apple Pay on the Web as the 5th biggest ecommerce payment technology among the top 10,000 ecommerce web sites.

similartech-chart-0As at the time of writing this article, Apple Pay on the Web was solidly the 4th biggest ecommerce payments technology, having surpassed Braintree, using this same metric. However, while the data is correct, the selected filter of the data (i.e. top 10,000 websites) artificially biases the result in favour of payment platforms that process transactions of the biggest ecommerce properties and brands.


similartech-chart-4SimilarTech doesn’t clearly define the metric used to measure market share, but I am guessing that it is in terms of total transaction value and not volume – I will explain below how I have reach that conclusion. But even less clear is the unit of measure for determining site rankings – i.e. what makes a site a top 10,000 site versus a top 100,000 site? What is clear is that as one expands the website filter beyond the top 10,000, Apple Pay on the Web’s ranking falls, and eventually ceases to feature in the top 8 payment platforms when one includes the top 1 million ecommerce websites.

SimilarTech also ranks the payment platforms by the number of websites that use them, and at the time when the original announcement of Apple Pay on the Web breaking into the top 5 market share rankings of the top 10,000 ecommerce sites, Apple Pay ranked in the 30’s with just about 1 thousand sites using the platform. Clearly these must be some big ecommerce sites for so few sites to have catapulted Apple Pay on the Web to such a significant market share in such a short period of time. About 2 days ago Apple Pay on the Web ranked 27th with 1,323 websites using the platform. As at the time of writing this article, Apple Pay on the Web was ranked 21st with 2,128 websites using Apple’s platform.

Many of the websites that have adopted Apple Pay on the Web are probably some of the more popular ecommerce properties and brands on the web, which would explain why and how Apple could carve out such a significant market share of the top 10,000 websites, by total value of transaction processed, in so short a time, given the Safari only macOS and iOS constraints.

Without necessarily knowing which websites have adopted Apple Pay on the Web, it is probably a good guess to say that most of these web sites are not new and most are probably well established web properties and brands. Which begs the question “what proportion of the transactions that used to flow to traditional payment processors and gateways are now being processed through Apple Pay on the Web?” …and of course, “why?” A user with the handle, TurtleGerald, recently wrote the following on one of the sites: “I used Apple Pay on the web for the first time just a couple of days ago – really nice experience, very convenient.” Okay, so it is not the usual rapturous endorsement by a rabid Apple fan; but if Apple Pay on the Web, does what Apple claims it does – i.e. delivers a payment experience to significantly “…increase conversions, user engagement, and customer satisfaction” more securely using card tokenisation, then we can assume that mobile centred online checkout platforms from Apple, Google and Samsung will not be far behind and will gradually capture more of the payment transactions of the most lucrative high value ecommerce properties and brands.

Once Apple launched Apple Pay and published the programming interfaces for app developers and payment gateway providers to integrate into, Apple’s intention to eventually converge mobile, physical, online and virtual payment experiences around the mobile handset has been and continues to be a predictable way-point for Apple’s payment strategy.

touch-id-to-pay-lululemon-118-0However, even Apple’s much vaunted marketing machine cannot overcome the limiting factors imposed by the Safari on macOS and iOS constraints. But – and this is a big but – if Apple Touch Bar innovation (which has an integrated Touch ID fingerprint scanner), currently a feature of the latest MacBook Pro lineup, makes the jump to Apple’s standalone Magic Keyboard, then we may see Apple Pay on the Web freed from at least its iOS constraint and, depending on whether Apple sees Apple Pay as a means of selling more iOS devices or as a tent-pole feature of its burgeoning services businesses, we may see Apple Pay on the Web free itself of its Safari and macOS constraints – but I wouldn’t bet much money on the prospect of the latter ever happening.

In conclusion, if one is not already heavily invested in becoming a major online or mobile payment platform, this would probably be a bad time to be betting against the existing leading incumbents such as PayPal, Alipay, Stripe, Authorize.Net, et al and the new mobile OEM entrants such as Apple, Google and Samsung without some really magical secret sauce that will revolutionise the payment experience across all bearers, not only for consumers and merchants, but also for issuers and acquires as well. Existing acquirers and processors who had aspirations of working their way up the payments value chain to offset shrinking merchant discount and processing fee margins are going to have to reevaluate their competitive strengths and ability to go up against this emerging reality.

Apple Pay on the Web is nowhere near being one of the top 5 eCommerce Payment Platforms, when the data is looked at objectively. But anyone that underestimates the compelling consumer and merchant experience that Apple Pay on the Web, and its ilk, is creating in converging mobile, physical, online and virtual payments is going to be in for a rude awakening in the very near future.