A million consumers sign up for Apple Pay in first 72 hours

Apple CEO Tim Cook at WSJDLive 2014
COOK: Apple Pay is “not just number one, but we’re more than the total of all the other guys.”

Apple Pay saw more than one million card activations within 72 hours of launch and is already the leading NFC payments player in the US, Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed during the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive event. Cook also outlined future growth plans for the service, including a potential partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

“We started last Monday, we’ve been at it for a week and I’ve followed these numbers pretty closely and in the first 72 hours we had gone over the one million mark on activations of cards,” Cook explained. “And Visa and MasterCard, we talked to these guys today, and they told us that if you sum up everyone else that’s in the contactless mobile payment at the point of sale, we’re already number one.

“And not just number one, but we’re more than the total of all the other guys; we’ve only been at it a week, and so I feel fantastic, I think it’s great. Now, we’ve got a lot more to go. We’ve got a lot of merchants to sign up, we’ve got a lot more banks to sign up, and we have the whole rest of the world.”

“We’re only in the US right now and so we’re just getting started but the early ramp looks fantastic and I’m getting flooded with emails from customers that are just, you know, it’s sort of that ‘ahh’ moment, you use the phone and that’s all you have to do; you know, I went to the Whole Foods and did this and it’s, it’s unbelievable,” Cook added.

“They’re no longer fishing for their credit card, you’re no longer worried about the merchant losing your credit card, that happened all over the place last year or this year and last year, and so I think it’s the first and only mobile payments system that’s both easy, private and secure so I think we hit on all three key points that the customer cares about.”

In response to CVS and Rite Aid’s decision to stop accepting Apple Pay, Cook called it “a skirmish.” The company has since sent a statement to Business Insider about the MCX consortium members’ decision, saying: “The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.

“We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations.”

Jack Ma, co-founder and chairman of Alibaba, also expressed his interest in partnering AliPay with Apple Pay. “We’re going to talk about getting married later this week,” Cook said in response to Ma’s comments about a potential collaboration. “We’ll see. I have the utmost respect for Jack.”

Apple is also in discussions with potential partners about using the NFC capability in its recent lineup of devices for other sorts of transactions outside of Apple Pay, including building access, ticketing and at public transit turnstiles, The Information reports. The company has reportedly spoken to technology providers such as HID Global and Cubic.

Bank Innovation is also reporting that the company has been “quietly building” a loyalty program that could come as early as this year. “It will probably utilize Apple’s iBeacon program, which is why Apple started selling — and possibly giving away free to select merchants — the iBeacons a while ago,” the article says.

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