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Which is the best contactless mobile payment service for UK customers?

Lou Hattersley | July 22, 2015
Apple isn’t alone in offering a contactless mobile payment service. Both Google and Samsung have announced upcoming rivals to Apple Pay, and Barclays is offering an alternative in the form of bPay. We look at the various mobile payment options available to UK customers, and help you decide which is the one for you.

mobile contactless payment

Apple Pay has launched in the UK at last, but it isn't the only way you can pay for products with a mobile phone. There are lots of alternatives to Apple Pay, in fact, some of which work with Android phones, and some of which work with any smartphone at all. In this feature, we're going to look at some of the alternative options available - focusing on current and near-future offerings from Samsung, Google and Barclays - and help you decide which is the best service for you.

Apple Pay may be the most interesting mobile payment option, especially for Apple Watch owners, but it's not for everybody. Although Apple Pay has launched in the UK, it's not available to everybody. Barclays Bank and Lloyds Bank are two pretty big names not supporting Apple Pay. Barclays has its bPay system, and support from Lloyds will come later in the year.

And not everybody owns, or wants, an Apple iPhone or Apple Watch. If you're not an iPhone user, but like the idea of paying for things by tapping your phone or watch to a surface, then here are the various options available.

Using Apple Pay to buy products

Let's start by going over the essentials of Apple's contactless payment service.

Apple Pay was announced back in September 2014 along with the iPhone 6, but it's been a long wait for it to arrive in the UK. It finally launched here on 14 July.

Setting up Apple Pay is simple. Your bank card is added to the iPhone using the Passbook app (soon to be rebranded Apple Wallet in recognition of its newfound ability). Once you've added a bank card to Passbook, Apple Pay is activated on your iPhone and synced Apple Watch: you're good to go. Here are four ways you can use Apple Pay:

Pay in shops on your iPhone 6. Pretty much all shops that currently accept contactless payments will accept Apple Pay. Just tap your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to the contactless reader and your iPhone wakes up. Tap your finger against the Touch ID sensor and make sure the iPhone taps the contactless reader to make the payment.

Pay in shops on your Apple Watch. Paying with the Apple Watch is probably easier than using the iPhone. You double-click the side button and hold the face of the Apple Watch to the contactless reader. The Apple Watch will buzz to let you know that the payment has gone through.

Pay within apps. Another aspect of Apple Pay is that you can pay for items inside apps. A wide range of third-party apps are compatible with Apple Pay payments.


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