Mobile Technology

What is Apple Pay and how will it work?

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Apple Pay is a new service, delivered through an official app on the App Store, that allows users to pay for goods and services in physical stores using their iPhone 6, as long as said store has Near Field Communication (NFC) terminals installed. Users can sync their credit or debit card details via iTunes or simply take a picture of one on their phone and then enjoy the ease of contactless payment in an ever-expanding number of stores.

Apple Pay hits the market in the UK on 14th July 2015, and can be used on Transport for London Oyster card machines and in literally hundreds of high street shops. The service is only available on iPhone 5 and 6, although iPhone 5 users will only be able to use the service after purchasing an Apple watch. However, not all banks will be covered by the launch – so that’s sad news for Apple users who have accounts with Halifax and HSBC, who will have to wait at least a month before being able to use the service. Barclays customers though, will not be able to use Apple Pay at all, as they are currently the only UK bank to have not come to an agreement with Apple regarding the service. Although it might seem insecure, the Apple Pay system might actually be safer than carrying a standard card around with you. Purchases are limited to the contactless card cap of £30 a day (up from the old cap of £20 a day before 2015) and your phone doesn’t store your credit or debit card number at all; instead it uses a special number called the device account number, linked uniquely to the card. This makes payment swift, secure and simple and is almost infinitely smoother than chip and PIN machines. Apple has also set out a firm commitment to not tracking user’s purchases or location through the device, and the full agreement will be available online to suit even the most ardent data protectionist.

The foremost downside, as with most phone based technologies, is battery life. If you use your phone as your primary method of purchasing, or even buying travel if you live in London, you could end up stranded or unable to get the product you need. should your battery run out It seems like a card will always be needed as back up, as much as Apple and other companies dream of a wallet-less future.

The adoption of Apple Pay technology will probably not be massively widespread, although contactless card payment distribution in the UK is light years ahead of the US, so that might help with the initial consumer uptake. Limiting factors include the fact that Apple is not the leading smartphone operating platform in the UK (that title goes to Android, for which developers are hard at work on a range of similar services) and the untested nature of the system with large numbers of users on board.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of Apple Pay…


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