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Apple CEO Tim Cook declares Apple Pay a success

Apple chief executive Tim Cook speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif.Reuters

Apple’s new mobile wallet, Apple Pay, is just a week old but has grown enormously, according to Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive.

At a tech conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., Cook said that one million credit cards had been activated on Apple Pay in the first three days that the mobile payment system was live.

That is remarkable momentum. The mobile app offered by Starbucks Coffee, which allows customers to make payments in its stores, has long been considered the most widely adopted mobile payment system in the United States, with more than 12 million active users. But it can be used only in Starbucks stores.


For its system, Apple teamed up with many merchants, including Whole Foods, Walgreens, McDonald’s, Macy’s, and Nike. But some retailers are holding out on Apple Pay. Over the weekend, Rite Aid and CVS, which are part of a group that is working on a competing mobile payment system, disabled Apple Pay from working with their stores.

Cook suggested it would only be a matter of time until those retailers came around.

“In the long arc of time, you’re only relevant as a retailer and merchant if your customers love you,” Cook said.

Cook also spoke about his desire to protect consumer privacy. The tougher security in Apple’s new mobile software system, iOS 8, drew criticism from law enforcement officials, who said the new encryption methods would hinder investigations.

But Apple simply wants to stay out of it, Cook said.

“There’s been some comments from some law enforcement types that said, ‘Hey, this is not good, we don’t have the flexibility we had before,’” he said. “If law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user and get it. It’s not for me to do that.”

He added that if a company were to design a way for the police to gain access to a user’s data, it could end up in the wrong hands.


“I wouldn’t ever do this, but if you design something where the key is under the mat, the bad guy can get that, too,” he said.

Earlier Monday, Cook appeared at the Capitol in his home state, Alabama, to talk about the company’s participation in ConnectED, President Barack Obama’s program to expand access to technology for schools. Cook said Apple would contribute $100 million worth of technology, including iPads, MacBooks, and Apple TVs, to 114 schools across 29 states.

In his talk, Cook also challenged Alabama to do more to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.