From this week you’ll be able to use your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay wherever there’s infrastructure to support it.
It’ll work thanks to the near field communication (NFC) chip in the phone – and you’ll just hold your phone near a reader, in the same way as you do with contactless payments now.
It’s thought that 250,000 locations will support Apple Pay at launch, including Pret a Manger, Marks & Spencer and Transport for London.
You’ll also be able to use Apple Pay for in-app purchases, once you’ve stored your card details in Apple Wallet. MasterCard, Visa and American Express will all work. Barclaycard currently won’t.
To make a payment you’ll have to hold your finger over TouchID at the same time as touching the reader, meaning no-one else will be able to use your phone in this way. Paying with Apple Watch will just require you to double click the side button while holding the watch to the reader, but a thief would need your phone too – and you’ll be able to use your Find My iPhone to turn Apple Pay off.
Because of the extra fingerprint authentication it’s thought that Apple Pay will be even more secure than your credit and debit cards because their details will never be shared – instead you’ll be assigned a Device Account Number that will be encrypted.
As a result of this security, a Visa spokesperson has said that there’ll be no £20 limit like there is for contactless payments, because authentication acts like a pin. However, it’s thought that Apple Pay users will be restricted by the readers’ current limit of £20 – this may increase after launch.
Apple says you won’t have to launch an app or wake up your phone to use it, so it’ll be as convenient as using a card.
But if it’s only good for payments up to £20, then you’ll still have to carry your card, too, so what problem does it solve? Certainly not the problem of carrying a card as well as your phone.
It’s thought that Apple Pay will help boost the popularity of NFC payments, because of the large number of Apple users, and because of the way it authenticates with a fingerprint scanner, which are also found on Android phones, such as the popular Galaxy S6.
Android has unveiled a rival, contactless payment system, Android Pay, which will enable users to pay with their Android phone in over 700,000 locations in the US.
Apple Pay has been around in America since October 2014, however according to research by PTMNTS.com and InfoScout only 15% of iPhone 6 users had tried Apple Pay by March 2015. Mobile phone payment will be an interesting one to watch and see how it differentiates itself as the convenience of contactless is pretty hard to beat.