With the backdrop of a tough financial second quarter, Apple executives both sang the praises of Apple Pay's uptick in consumer use and admitted the company has to view the mobile payment service as a future money maker rather than a key contributor now.
"Apple Pay doesn't provide a meaningful financial contribution at this point, but as we look at the amount of transactions going through Apple Pay now and think ahead to the long term, we think this could be an interesting business for us as well," Apple CFO Luca Maestri said April 26 during the company's second quarter earnings conference call.
Though the faint praise is reminiscent of late CEO Steve Jobs' describing Apple TV as a hobby in 2010, citing a lack of a viable market strategy, his successor Tim Cook is more upbeat about the potential for Apple Pay.
After successful launches in China and Singapore, Cook said Apple Pay is attracting more than one million new users per week, and the mobile wallet enjoyed five times more transactions during the second quarter compared to a year earlier.
There are now more than 10 million contactless reader terminals accepting Apple Pay globally, Cook said. In the U.S., more than 2.5 million terminals accept Apple Pay, he added.
"We are expecting more expansion of Apple Pay coming soon," Cook said.
An increasing popularity in Apple Watch will also help fuel Apple Pay use, as unit sales of Apple Watch in its first year exceeded the sales of iPhones during its first year, Cook noted. "We believe Apple Watch has an exciting future ahead," he added.
Still, Apple's potential to generate revenue from its mobile wallet is unclear, even though it had negotiated favorable transaction rates with banks when the app debuted two years ago.
Cook did not name any new financial institutions or merchants for Apple Pay during the earnings call.
Though Apple Pay has generated a lot of brand awareness and enrollments, it has struggled to maintain ongoing usage, even among early adopters.
Apple sold 51.2 million iPhones in the quarter, a 16% decline from 61.2 million a year ago in what was a record quarter.
"The smartphone market is currently not growing, but we are very optimistic that the market, particularly Apple, will grow again," Cook said. Part of that enthusiasm, he added, stems from data that indicates to Apple executives that consumers switching from Android to iPhone represent a sizable segment of growth.
Apple posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and net income of $10.5 billion, a drop from revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion in the second quarter of 2015.