Apple Pay – The Big News Everyone’s Ignoring

Buried in all the excitement of new iPhones and Apple Watches yesterday, there was a really major announcement which deserves a little more attention: Apple Pay, and what it’s going to mean for Apple and Apple shareholders.

First, let’s take a quick look what we know. We know that about $4 trillion a year in the US is put on credit cards, and that Apple already has 700 million credit cards on file attached to iTunes accounts. We know that to use Apple Pay, you’ve got to have an iPhone 6 or 6+ or an Apple Watch. We know Apple negotiated lower than normal swipe fees with 5 major banks which represent 83% of all credit card transactions in the US. We know that swipe fees are typically about 2.4% per transaction.

Making a few reasonable assumptions, we can try to predict the impact Apple Pay will have, should it become widely used (and I think it will). So, let’s assume the following:

1) The average Apple customer spends $1500 a month on their credit card.

2) Let’s assume Apple talked the banks into reducing the rate by .5%, and Apple is pocketing that .5% as their fee

3) Let’s assume they replace 83% of those swipes with Apple Pay. That would equal about $6.225 per month per user, or $74.70 per year.

4) Assume that the iPhone 6 and 6+ sell only as well as the iPhone 5c and 5s did (a very conservative assumption).

5) Let’s assume that starting in Q4 2015, iPhone sales improve by just 10% year-over-year.

6) And just because we have nothing to go on (and because some of our assumptions will be inaccurate), let’s assume zero Apple Watch sales – meaning no payment transactions from the Watch side of things. This should make our assumptions pretty conservative and safe.

If every customer who bought an iPhone 6 or 6+ replaced their credit cards with Apple Pay, the revenue stream would look like this:

 Q4 2014Q1 2015Q2 2015Q3 2015Q4 2015Q1 2016Q2 2016
iPhones Sold33.800.00051.030.00043,720,00035,200,00037,180,00056,133,00048,092,000

That’s $1 trillion in charges by Q2 2016, and over $5.5 billion in revenue, with relatively conservative assumptions, and let’s remember that revenue should be mostly profit – probably at least 70% of it. If that guess is right, that’s $400m in profit from Apple Pay in the 1st quarter it’s used, and do you know what’s interesting about those numbers? They’re bigger than anything Amazon has ever posted, and bigger than the numbers Amazon will post for all of 2014 – and that’s in the first quarter alone.

Apple just added four+ Amazons to its business, and no one really noticed.

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