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Surprise! Apple Pay Gets More Free Publicity -- This Time From American Express and Seinfeld.

Apple is playing ball with the financial industry's old guard. In return, Apple gets lots of free promotion.

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.

If Apple builds it, they will advertise it.

In the case of Apple Pay, this continues to be the case. On Sunday night, American Express launched an ad campaign for Apple’s mobile payment service with a TV commercial featuring appearances by Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey and Jackie Chan.

The Amex spot is just the latest in a string of ad campaigns that Apple Pay partners like Chase and Bank of America have rolled out to spur adoption for Apple Pay.

Why are all these financial services companies spending millions on building awareness for an Apple service, without Apple spending a dime on those ads? Because Apple chose to play ball with the traditional payment ecosystem when it introduced Apple Pay, rather than try to go around it. To use Apple Pay, customers have to have a traditional credit or debit account issued by a traditional bank. So every time a customer uses Apple Pay, the old guard benefits from the transaction.

If Apple had tried something more drastic — like building a closed-loop payment system that cut out most of the card companies and banks — it may have been able to secure a bigger windfall from each Apple Pay payment. But that would have been an extremely risky and tedious initiative. At least for now, Apple is playing ball. So expect the banks and card companies to keep spending big to bring people to the game.

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