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The race is on — between American and Chinese companies alike — to get U.S. consumers to pay for everything with their phones. But as the chart below makes plain, that market barely exists.

Expand chart
Adapted from CivicScience; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driving the news: Alipay — the mobile payment app from Ant Financial, Alibaba's fintech spinoff — has established a beachhead in the U.S., expanding to thousands of pharmacies, convenience stores and the Mall of America.

  • The company has insisted it is only targeting Chinese tourists, but industry analysts say Alipay has the potential to break open the U.S. market.
  • And Alipay has already spread out of China, says Thad Peterson, a senior analyst with the research firm Aite Group. Scores of consumers in developing countries in Asia have adopted it.

Meanwhile, Apple and Facebook are trying to capture payments, too.

But, but, but: As Axios' Dion Rabouin reports, the U.S. is growing increasingly out of step with the rest of the world. In China and India, cash is quickly becoming obsolete, and in Europe, paying with the phone is catching on as well. But Americans remain attached to their cards.

  • That's because, says David True, an analyst with PayGility, "Paying with a phone today does not offer much if any incremental benefit to paying with a card" in the U.S.
  • Only individual retailers, like Starbucks, which offer rewards for using their mobile payment option, offer any benefit.
  • Last year, Starbucks' payment app had more users than Apple's or Google's.

What to watch: Mobile wallets will start to grab more of the U.S. market in the next five years, says Peterson. The big area for U.S. growth is through contactless cards in mobile wallets that enable "tap and go" paying, he says — but that still keeps cards front and center.

  • There, companies like Apple, which are rolling out cards in partnership with a bank like Goldman Sachs, have the upper hand.

Go deeper

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.