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One More Thing? Apple Pay Later’s Debut Is Still Pending

Digital Transactions

A delay in launching Apple Pay Later may not be as detrimental as it sounds. “There’s still an opportunity to make a splash even if it’s delayed,” Sheridan Trent, director of marketing intelligence at The Strawhecker Group, tells Digital Transactions News. “This is Apple. They have very loyal customers. They’ve obviously got significant market share when it comes to people’s phones and how they use it.”

A technical issue could be why Apple Pay Later is yet to come, she says. Or perhaps the prospect of impending regulation may be the holdup. Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report on buy now, pay later services that offered a regulatory outline, but no sweeping overhaul. “We’re kind of in a regulatory confusion here,” Trent says. “But it looks like there will be some kind of regulation coming. It’s hard to say.”

If Apple is waiting that out, the delay could be a while, given the typical pace of regulatory implementations. “If it’s driven by regulation, it might be more than a year,” she says. “It may not.”

While consumers have plenty of BNPL options, Trent doesn’t think a delayed entry for Apple Pay Later will harm it, though it means the service could miss out on the upcoming holiday-shopping season. “We’ve seen from past behavior that people really like BNPL,” she says. She acknowledges that Apple wants to offer a quality product, but the holiday-shopping season is prime for BNPL use.

“I don’t think there’s a significant disadvantage to that,” says David Morris, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, a New York City-based research firm. Yes, competitors can use the time to advance their positions, and there could be a downside in that regard, he says. “But that does not discount the competitive advantages that Apple will still have,” Morris says, such as Apple Pay, the Apple Pay user ecosystem, and other strengths.