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March 24, 2016, 10:29 a.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: recode.net  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 24, 2016

Apple Pay — the easy iOS payment method, heretofore used mostly in checkout lines at places like Whole Foods and Walgreens — is coming to websites, Recode reports:

Apple has been telling potential partners that its payment service, which lets shoppers complete a purchase on mobile apps with their fingerprint rather than by entering credit card details, is expanding to websites later this year, multiple sources told Re/code.

The service will be available to shoppers using the Safari browser on models of iPhones and iPads that possess Apple’s TouchID fingerprint technology, these people said. Apple has also considered making the service available on Apple laptops and desktops, too, though it’s not clear if the company will launch that capability.

Sources say that Apple is telling potential partners that the Apple Pay expansion to mobile websites will be ready before this year’s holiday shopping season. An announcement could come at WWDC, Apple’s conference for software developers, which typically takes place in June, though sources cautioned that the timing of an announcement could change.

This has obvious implications for online retailers, but I want to highlight what it could mean for news organizations. Here are three facts about today’s news ecosystem:

  • Readers are increasingly moving to mobile devices, namely smartphones.
  • Publishers are increasingly reliant on reader revenue (vs. advertising revenue) to make ends meet.
  • The experience of buying something new on a mobile website — typing in your credit card number and address on that tiny screen — is terrible.

If you’ve adopted a metered paywall, you need to find a way to convert casual readers into paying ones — to make it easy for someone seeing “You’ve read all 10 free articles you’re allowed this month!” to commit to a subscription. Anything that stands in the way of that conversion hurts your bottom line.

If Apple Pay for websites does really let iPhone users (who generate the majority of most American news sites’ mobile traffic) pay with one tap on a fingerprint sensor, that’s a real advance. And unlike Apple’s App Store subscription offerings, Apple Pay doesn’t take a 30 percent cut; its fees are comparable to standard credit card payments. If your publication offers a paywall and sees mobile conversion rates lower than desktop ones — which could be rephrased as just “if your publication offers a paywall” — Apple Pay for the web is worth watching.

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