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Apple Pay goes live on UK high streets

Sam Shead | July 15, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook first revealed the physical wallet-replacement service last September.

iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6
Waitrose, M&S, Boots, McDonalds are among the early adopters of Apple Pay. Image: ©iStock/ krystiannawrocki

Apple Pay has launched in the UK today where 25 retailers are accepting it.

The service, which is already available in the US, allows people to pay for items and journeys via their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch using contactless payment technology and a near field communication (NFC) chip.

How to use Apple Pay

In order to make a payment through an iPhone the user must hold the smartphone near the contactless reader with their finger on the TouchID. There is no need to open an app. If the user owns an Apple Watch they can make a payment by holding by holding the wearable up to a reader and double-clicking its side button.

The only iPhone that's compatible with Apple Pay at launch is the iPhone 6.

Users can also pay for goods with a single tap within apps. This feature could benefit many of the UK's digital startups that allow smartphone users to buy everything from clothes to food through their apps.

Top10 a hotel search app that instantly finds users 10 shortlisted options is one of the digital firms that stands to benefit. Cofounder Harry Jones said: "We're very excited to be one of the first apps to offer Apple Pay to UK customers, and to help usher in the future of payments in mobile apps, which will change the way millions of people in the UK pay for goods and services. We've always strived to provide the fastest and most secure way to process payments on our hotel booking platform, so it's exciting to see new technology reducing long-winded processes to a simple tap."

Where are the details stored?

Apple is storing people's credit and debit card details in Passbook - a native app that is already used to store boarding passes and tickets.

Retailers and restaurants offering the service in the UK include Waitrose, M&S, Boots, McDonalds, while Transport for London is also allowing people to pay for trips in London using the service. A full list is available here.

Research firm KantarWorldPanel estimating there are currently 2.9 million Apple Pay compatible devices in use in the UK.

One thing worth noting is that many retailers won't allow customers to make Apple Pay transactions over £20 (rising to £30 in September).

However, sellers do have the option to update their back-end software systems to recognise fingerprint readings as an ID-check alternative to chip and pin codes, thereby removing the cap.

Sarah Kellett, associate director of consumer facing industries at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said: "The launch of Apple Pay is yet another step towards the mobile wallet and contactless agenda, and we expect this service will see significant pick up amongst iPhone users. Until contactless becomes more widely available however - on multiple operating systems and devices - the launch of Apple Pay is unlikely to revolutionise the retail payment landscape.


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