Apple Pay was launched over six months ago in the UK, but it’s now set to become more popular. From this week, at any retailer that supports contact-less payments you’ll now be able to use Apple Pay so is it worth using, or is this just another tech fad?
How does it work?
Apple Pay can be used through the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as the Apple Watch. Unfortunately older iPhones aren’t compatible as they lack the Near Field Communicator (NFC) chip. NFC uses small magnets in your phone and the payment point to wirelessly transfer data. The slightly older iPhone 5 series can be used, but only when used with an Apple Watch. The whole set-up process is simple and relatively painless. You can store all of your various debit and credit cards, through the Passbook app, soon to be re-named Wallet. Much like you can with boarding passes, you simply take a picture of your card, and it automatically reads the relevant numbers.
What can I use it for?
Once set-up, you can use your Apple device to pay for any number of transactions. However there is a £20 limit, which is set to rise to £30 in September. Although this can be restricting, Apple Pay is really intended to speed up small and regular transactions around the £20 mark.
Is it safe?
Although contact-less payment is becoming more common, security is generally people’s main concern. With the iPhone, you present your phone, place your finger on the home button and the payment is processed. This is very simple and secure, in fact, the need for a fingerprint means it’s safer than using just your card. Apple promises it doesn’t store your card numbers, neither on their servers or your device and only your most recent transactions are stored within the app.
Apple Pay can also be used online or through apps. This makes online shopping incredibly easy (maybe too easy!), because you no longer have to type in endless card numbers and passwords. It really demonstrates the need for a good customer experience when using a websites checkout page, with simplicity being the key issue. As the popularity of contactless payments rise, people will expect the same simplicity when using their favourite shopping apps.
Where can I use it?
As the process was launched in the US before coming to the UK, most issues have been ironed out. However, although most major British banks are supported, there are still some big names missing such as Halifax and Lloyds. They have both promised to join, but have been slower to act. The list of retailers which support Apple Pay continues to grow, and it already includes major brands including Starbucks and McDonalds. The only issue is remembering to use it, as many iPhone users are yet to even register a single card through the app. This should change as the list of banks and companies which support Apple Pay continues to grow. Although it does feel strange to pull out your phone instead of your wallet to pay, expect to see the popularity of Apple Pay rise.
-Tom Deacon, @tomdeacon7