Retailers Who Refuse to Embrace Apple Pay Face Grave Risks

When merchants say they are reluctant to embrace Apple Pay, the reasoning, amazingly, doesn't rest on sound technical ground. Instead, there seems to be a pattern of self-delusion, denial, foolish frugality, excuses about lack of customer demand and even downright ignorance. In time, this strategy is destined for major disasters that will drag their customers down with them.


One of my favorite Apple technologies has come to the forefront again. Apple Pay. I've used Apple Pay several times now on my Apple Watch, and not only does that astound the sales clerk, but sends me into paroxysms of giddiness. But there are more sober issues here.

Some merchants, regrettably, remain in denial.

Are you in denial?

No I'm not!

Not only do some merchants believe that they have overriding interests that trump customer needs, but their denial extends to skimping on funds for POS equipment replacements and even ignorance. I found this part of a VentureBeat article "The ‘year of Apple Pay’? Fewer than a quarter of top retailers support it" particularly interesting (and alarming).

One recent survey found that a quarter of all retailers don’t understand that come October 1, retailers who have not adopted the EMV technology standard for “chip and pin” payments will assume legal responsibility for credit card fraud. The survey found that 45 percent of those surveyed will very likely miss the October 1 deadline for having EMV points of sale equipment in place.

For some background on the October 1 EMV Liability Shift, see this article I wrote in 2014. To quote:

This liability shift means that those issuers and merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for any and all transactions that are found to be fraudulent.

It defies credulity that many merchants, on notice since mid-2014, are going to miss the deadline. (The VentureBeat article I cited above is sourced from this excellent Reuters report.) Of course, plastic credit cards with chips are EMV compliant, but I don't believe that's the end point, just an intermediate step for many. It's a whole different discussion.

If there's one thing that's becoming clear, it's that corporations (who like to roll money up in the management chain) and governments (who are short of money) who are not accustomed to spending big bucks on first-class security are going to continue to be harmed by their practices. And their customers will suffer along with them.

In fact, this could be a turning point in the future of U.S. business. Corporations that have been notably hacked like Target, Home Depot and Neiman Marcus may be, thankfully, suitable sobered. For example, Target recently did an about face and embraced Apple Pay. Those corporations that don't have technically savvy executive management and don't appreciate what it takes to mitigate the risks may soon be out of business.

More than ever, it's important to decide which companies you can trust, and those executives who think that they can skate on security and skimp on people, resources and equipment may be no longer be with us in a few years.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of June 1.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of June 1


One of the best articles I've read recently is not from this week specifically, but I found it this week. It's from an excellent technical writer, Andrew Cunningham at ars technica called "Yes, the 2015 MacBook Air supports 4K displays at 60Hz." The thing is, it's been quite an art lately to determine which Macs support 4K displays, and whether the support is a 30 Hz or 60 Hz.

Also, the combination of OS X version and the hardware determines whether you can use single stream mode with DisplayPort 1.2 or whether you may need to use two cables. It's all quite a mess in my mind. While Mr. Cunningham's article doesn't try to span the extent of all the 4K issues and all Macs, his explanation focused on the 2015 MacBook Air brings a whole lot of knowledge and testing to the table. If you're interested in a 4K monitor for any recent Mac of yours, this article is 4K video 101 and must reading.

The next article starts off coyly with...

Ask the average Apple fan to make a list of the important moves the company has made in the past year or so, and the list will probably start with the Apple Watch before ticking off the huge sales of bigger iPhones and the $3 billion deal for Beats Electronics.

But the real breakthrough according to this excellent article is Apple's programming language Swift. "Apple's Biggest Breakthrough That Almost No One Knows About." Swift has some of its roots in the programming language called Haskell, a language known for, amongst other things, not allowing ambiguity to to introduce bugs in the code. (I'll have more to say on this next week.) Meanwhile, if you're curious about Swift and how it's affecting the lives of programmers, this is a good article.

On to the amazing Apple TV, a three year old technology. One of the trends I've noticed in tech reporting is that writers—and I am no exception—try to gather insights from disparate sources and put a picture together about some part of our technology lives. The results are often wrong or mired in opinion. And then, some entity does some bang-up research, and we find out the real details. This next article is one of those. "Apple TV leaps into first place as iOS dominates online video market, Adobe reports." The article is especially notable because it's written by Daniel Eran Dilger—someone who is deep when it comes to all things Apple.

Finally, and it may be just me, but I make a distinction between well-known technical writers who are deep on Apple and writers who publish at popular sites and whose name I never heard of. Often those latter articles look at the surface effects with respect to Apple to paint a broad picture for the mass market. However, in this case, I must say that the author generally gets Apple security situation right while necessarily ignoring the deeper issues.

So take a look, with your critical hat on, at "Apple is having its Microsoft moment." If anything stands out, it's that Apple has been too slow and not rigorous enough in its security fixes to software. Perhaps it's because running scared is unseemly for Apple product managers. Meanwhile, Microsoft, which has been burned badly in the past, seems no longer complacent. And in the software security business, complacency kills. Happily, the article ends on a hopeful note. Which is a good place to end this week's P.D.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.