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Apple Pay Is Too Anonymous for Some Retailers

Apple Pay Is Too Anonymous for Some Retailers
Source: Apple Inc.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook loves to talk about the security features of his mobile-payments system. Apple Pay won’t collect information about what people buy—and it’s designed to ensure no one else can, either. Merchants have good reason to be excited about Apple Pay, which goes live on Monday at some 220,000 shops and restaurants. But some retailers are less than thrilled about Apple’s anonymous infrastructure.

To understand why, take a look Panera Bread. The sandwich chain fancies itself an early adopter and has been experimenting with taking to-go orders through its app and deploying tablets in place of cashiers. Here’s what Panera ultimately wants from its participation in any mobile-payments system: a speedier link to the MyPanera Rewards loyalty program, which is used in half of all purchases. When a customer pays now, she either hands over her loyalty card or tells the cashier her phone number. Mobile payments should be able remove that step.