14th July 2015 at 2:29pm
Fans of Apple devices are already eagerly awaiting the launch of the company’s new Pay technology in the UK – an exciting new system which could revolutionise the way many of us pay for our shopping. Many consumers have questions, however, about how the technology works, where they can use it, and how secure it is. Read on to find out everything you need to know about completing transactions with your iPhone or Apple Watch using Apple Pay which officially went live in the UK today.
What is Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is a contactless payment system that allows shoppers to pay for goods or services using specific, newer Apple devices – chiefly the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch (if the latter is paired with an iPhone 5 or above). These devices have a built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) antenna which allows them to communicate with the contactless payment terminals with which many shops are already equipped.
You simply add your debit or credit card details to the Passbook app on your iPhone (for the Apple Watch, load the app on the phone it’s paired with), or you can choose to use the card you’ve already registered to use with iTunes. Then, when the time to shop arrives, the process is similar to paying with a contactless debit or credit card – you simply hold your iPhone or watch against the payment terminal and place your finger on Touch ID (for the phone) or double-click the side button (on the watch).
So what are the advantages of using this technology?
According to Apple, Pay is a quicker and more convenient way of paying for items. There’s no need to fish around in your bag for your purse or wallet and find the right card – in fact, you could even dispense with the wallet altogether, and simply head out just with your phone. Similarly, there’s no need to enter lengthy payment details within apps – you can pay with the simple touch of a finger.
When does it launch in the UK?
The technology was launched in the USA in October 2014, and many British consumers have been anticipating its arrival on this side of the pond ever since. Finally, in early June, Apple announced that Pay will be launching in the UK in July 2015, with a number of major banks and retailers already on board with the technology. And today, it has arrived!
Which shops accept Apple Pay?
It is estimated that Apple Pay will be accepted at over 250,000 locations across the UK – for instance, you will be able to use your device to pay at major retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Liberty, Boots, Lidl, Waitrose, Costa Coffee, Post Office, Wagamama, BP, Nando’s, New Look, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, and McDonalds, to name a few. You will also be able to use Apple Pay on buses and trains operated by Transport for London, where contactless systems already exist.
In addition, you can use Apple Pay for purchases made within apps that feature the option.
Which banks support Apple Pay?
In the UK, Apple has already confirmed that Bank of Scotland, NatWest, HSBC, M&S Bank, Halifax, Santander, Ulster Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, First Direct, MBNA, TSB and American Express will all support Apple Pay either at its launch or by the end of the year, and more are likely to be added as the service rolls out.
Can it be used even for large transactions?
One advantage the UK has over the US in terms of launching Apple Pay is that contactless payment terminals are already widely used across the country, and hence most shops who use this technology will be able to process Apple Pay transactions immediately, with only minor adjustments to their systems. However, because most of these terminals are at the moment only set up to handle contactless payments up to a value of £20 (due to rise to £30 later this year), initially Apple Pay transactions will be limited to this amount as well – although it is likely that many terminals will be upgraded if the service gains popularity.
Is it secure?
Apple argues that using Pay could actually be safer than handing over your debit or credit card, as each time you use your card, your identity and card number are visible. With Pay, on the other hand, you’re assigned a unique Device Account Number which is encrypted and safely stored within your device, and it’s this number – along with a code for each specific transaction – that is transmitted and shared, rather than your card and identity details.
Similarly, Apple doesn’t store or save your transaction information on its servers (although your most recent transactions will be visible in your Passbook app, for your own reference), so that information can’t be leaked and traced back to you. And if your device is lost or stolen, you can use the Find My iPhone feature to suspend your Pay account so no one else can use it.