A new app designed to crowdsource an interactive map of businesses that accept Apple Pay just reported adding 12,673 new merchants in North America, 95 percent of them being small businesses. In parallel, its developer reported that the new app's users have increased an incredible 750 percent over the past two days, indicating a lot of interest in Apple Pay.
Brian Roemmele, the PayFinder app's creator, announced the jump in Apple Pay interest on Twitter earlier today, observing that "Christmas was good to the iPhone 6 series and Apple Pay adoption." On Christmas Day, Roemmele had earlier noted that 'indirect activation data suggested that the Target and BestBuy $100 off Apple Watch promotion may have doubled [the number of Apple Watch] devices in use.'
Apple is quickly expanding Apple Pay's reach beyond the U.S., with the service launching in the UK in June and more recently in Canada and Australia last month. It is expected to begin operating in China early in 2016.
Apple Maps vs Apple Pay
While Apple itself has added Apple Pay badges to the detail pages of a number of select merchants in its own Maps app, the badges appear to be mostly limited to larger chains, and suffer from one of the most significant remaining flaws of Maps: the divergence between search results and browsed map locations.
For example, when browsing Maps in iOS 9.2, clicking on a high profile merchant's map location often serves up a detail page that does indicate its acceptance of Apple Pay (above).
However, when performing a search for that same merchant— even by exact name— Maps often delivers a basic address-only page with no other information (below), even though it's the exact same location and merchant that Apple's Maps knows about and lists as a browsed location.
Apple's still-dysfunctional performance in Maps' point-of-presence data has created a need filled by the PayFinders app, and users appear to be very interested in finding the Apple Pay data that Apple itself has yet to consistently, competently deliver in its own.
This is a particularly strange problem for Apple to continue dragging into 2016, given that Apple's new universal search in iOS 9 does provide complete search results (including Apple Pay acceptance) for many locations that Maps itself can't quite seem to return relevant results for on its own.
Maps' performance is particularly embarrassing when users search for "Apple Pay." Rather than listing relevant nearby merchants (as PayFinders does), Apple Maps drops a location pin on "Apple Way," a sleepy suburb halfway between Orlando and Miami in Florida (a pin that's over 3,000 miles away from my current location in Portland, Oregon, where the map was centered when I did the search).
If 2015 was the "Year of Apple Pay," perhaps Apple should make 2016 the "Year of Apple Maps being able to actually find stuff, like Apple Pay." Until then, PayFinders offers users a way to find (and share) the locations of merchants who currently accept Apple Pay.