By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
October 28, 2014

The knock on Tim Cook when he took over for Steve Jobs was that he wasn’t a product guy, and that’s true if you define “product” strictly as a finished piece of hardware.

But think about all the pieces — hardware, software, services — that had to come together to make Apple Pay work:

  • The Passbook app, introduced at the first post-Jobs WWDC in June 2012 when nobody outside Apple could figure out what it was for.
  • The acquisition in July 2012 of AuthenTec’s military-strength fingerprint recognition technology.
  • The Sept. 2013 launch of TouchID on the iPhone 5S, the first iPhone with a scratch-proof sapphire home button.
  • Deals negotiated in early 2014 with the major payment networks, the big U.S. banks and hundreds of retailers, from Aéropostale to Walt Disney Resorts.
  • The Sept. 2014 launch of iPhone 6/6+, the first Apple phones equipped with NFC chips.
  • Finally, with the release of iOS 8.1 on Oct. 20, the official launch of Apple Pay.

.

Now watch Cook’s body language in the attached clip from the Wall Street Journal‘s inaugural WSJLIVE conference, when he trots out some numbers he says he’s been “following pretty closely”: More than 1 million credit cards activated in the first 72 hours; more mobile point-of-sale payments than the sum of all competing systems.

“We’re already No. 1,” he says, leaning forward, pointing, and drawing a pie chart in the air. “Not just No. 1, but we’re more than the total of all the other guys. And we’ve only been at it a week!”

Resistance from CVS and Rite Aid is probably futile. Alibaba’s Jack Ma is ready to sign. China’s UnionPay is reportedly on board. And then, according to WSJLIVE’s unintentionally funny machine-generated transcription, there’s “the whole rest of the war.”

I can’t think of anyone better to design a smart watch than Jony Ive. Or anyone better than Tim Cook to solve the problem of contactless mobile payments at the point of sale.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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