It’s been a busy month for Apple, its users and its fans. Announcing new iPhones, introducing the world to Apple Watch, releasing iOS 8 and tomorrow (19th September) the sale of the iPhone 6. On top of all that, we also have Apple Pay to look forward to. Apple describes Apple Pay as ‘your wallet, without the wallet’, and will allow consumers to use their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch (when it’s released) to pay for goods. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the digital wallet age.
We can already use our phones as boarding passes, train tickets, coupons and loyalty cards: it only seems natural that the next big step would be using it for payment. So what can we expect from Apple Pay and what benefits can it bring to retail?
First things first
Apple Pay is due to launch in the US in October, through a free download in iOS 8 for iPhone 6 and 6 plus users. Apple Pay works with three major payment networks: Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit and debit cards. There is currently no release date for the UK and wider Europe.
How does it work?
Apple Pay works by allowing customers to pay for their goods using Touch ID technology. Touch ID technology is incorporated into the Home button and uses a fingerprint identity sensor to mean only your unique fingerprint on the Home button can authorise a transaction. Consumers will be able to input their payment card details into the Passbook application on their devices, so it’s stored and ready to be used when you come to pay. To pay, simply hold your phone near the store’s contactless reader with your finger on the Home button. If your payment is successful, you’ll be notified by a beep and subtle vibration.
What does this mean for retail?
Retailers can now add a ‘we also take Apple Pay’ sign to their list of payment methods. The likes of Subway, Staples and Starbucks are already gearing up for the release of Apple Pay in the US.
How can retailers use Apple Pay?
Getting your store equipped with the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that Apple Pay relies on to work will provide your shoppers with the option to ditch their wallets and use their iPhones for payment instead. While us Brits do love a good queue, Apple Pay will make payment quicker, resulting in shorter, calmer and more orderly queues – even we can’t complain about that.
So a potential customer is browsing your website on their iPhone and sees something they want to buy: they rummage through that seemingly bottomless bag and admit defeat when all they find is chewing gum and old bus tickets, leaving you missing out on a sale. Instead, picture this: a ‘pay with Apple Pay’ option, that allows people to purchase from your site or app using Apple Pay, meaning no need to dig out that impossible-to-find wallet as your bank details are already stored in Passbook. Purchasing could literally take just one click.
Is it safe?
The thoughts on everyone’s mind – do I feel comfortable that I can now use my phone to pay for stuff? And what about hackers? Well, according to Apple, your device will not save your transaction information, so nothing can be tied back to you. Since you don’t have to show your credit or debit card, you never reveal your name, card number or security code to the cashier when you pay in store, ensuring that your information stays only with yourself.
Where can I use Apple Pay?
According to Apple, Apple Pay will let you use iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in over 220,000 contactless-payment-accepting stores (presumably this currently only applies to the US). Stores include Nike, Subway, Disney Store, Staples and Starbucks (to name a few). The mystery we are still faced with is whether there will be a capped spending limit on Apple Pay. In the UK, there is currently a maximum spend of £20 with contactless payment cards – we presume Apple Pay would be similar, which is great for a cheeky Starbucks, but you may have to limit how many drinks you can buy down the pub.
…All we need now is for Apple to bring Apple Pay to the UK.
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