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Opinion
Cass R. Sunstein

Apple Pay Could Make You Poorer

As payment systems become more automatic, Apple Pay users might find that their thinner iPhones are making their bank accounts thinner as well.
Sure, I'll tip 30 percent.
Sure, I'll tip 30 percent.

The new Apple payment system has extraordinary promise. With Apple Pay, you might not need a wallet, and you can leave your credit and debit cards at home. In terms of ease and convenience, payment cards represented a big leap from the era of cash. Apple hopes its system will be a comparable leap from the era of cards.

Skeptics have focused on questions of security and privacy, but prospective users might want to pause over a different problem: When payment becomes easier, and when people don't see the money they're handing over, they tend to spend a lot more. And as payment becomes more automatic, people become less sensitive to what they're losing. Apple Pay users might find that their thinner phones are making their bank accounts thinner as well.