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Where Can You Pay With Apple Pay? There's an App for That.

Industry vet Brian Roemmele unveils the Pay Finders app for iPhones.

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Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

One of the knocks on Apple Pay is that people don’t know where they can use it, since a store needs to have the right checkout equipment to accept the tap-to-pay service. Self-proclaimed Apple fanboy and payments industry veteran Brian Roemmele hopes to change that.

Roemmele, a well-known entrepreneur, consultant and researcher in the world of digital payments, has created Pay Finders, an iPhone app that shows people which businesses around them accept the mobile payments service. The app is not the first app of its kind, but Roemmele hopes it will be the most accurate by combining crowd-sourced data from Apple Pay enthusiasts with data from industry companies and other sources.

“Why don’t people use Apple Pay?” Roemmele asked rhetorically. “A, I didn’t know the business accepted Apple Pay or B, I forgot.”

The first version of the app is aimed at solving for the A point, Roemmele said, and he is contemplating adding location-based notifications in a future version that would let a person know when they are near an Apple-Pay compatible storefront.

While it seems unlikely that anyone other than Apple Pay enthusiasts will choose where to shop based on Apple Pay acceptance, the app does underscore the challenge Apple Pay faces in ramping up demand. In order to accept Apple Pay (and Android Pay, too), merchants have to use checkout equipment embedded with a technology known as NFC. The number of NFC-compatible stores is growing quickly in the U.S., but still accounts for less than half of all U.S. stores by most counts.

Roemmele has owned his own merchant services company since the ’80s, but has raised his profile in payments circles in recent years thanks to his prolific use of Quora, the Q&A site. He has a special talent for digging up Apple patents and hypothesizing on how they’ll be used in the future.

Roemmele is not a software engineer by trade, but said he coded much of the app himself. As a result, the app is barebones-basic and won’t win any design awards. When users who live in a major city open the app, they are greeted with an overwhelming number of icons signaling merchants with Apple Pay acceptance, overlaying a map of the city. Roemmele says he is adding filtering options soon, but says the current appearance is partially by design.

“When you see this, you have no doubt in your mind that [Apple Pay] is much more ubiquitous than we were led to believe,” he said. “Even by Apple.”

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