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Why Apple Pay is Apple's most important product in years

Caitlin McGarry | Oct. 21, 2014
The technology that powers Apple Pay, near-field communications, isn't new or particularly innovative but Apple waited for the right time to turn the iPhone into a wallet.

With partnerships in place, Apple just needed to introduce NFC technology in a device people had to have. The masses have long clamored for Apple to make bigger phones. With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the company fulfilled two needs--mobile payments and supersized phones--in one go. And those phones broke sales records across the globe, ensuring that millions of people can use Apple Pay the moment it goes live on Monday.

Why you'd use it
Just because Apple Pay is a main feature on the year's biggest phones doesn't mean people will use it. But Apple made the mobile payment system so seamless that not using it seems like a waste of a phone.

Apple Pay is hinged upon Touch ID--without it, you'd have to fumble with your phone to open an app and enter a PIN to verify your identity. After a few line hold-up incidents, you'd probably stop bothering with mobile payments altogether. (This is how Google Wallet works.) As you can see in the below video my colleague Susie Ochs recorded at last week's Apple media event, Apple Pay instantly wakes from a sleeping screen when you hold it up to the NFC reader. You choose a card and authenticate your purchase with Touch ID. It's dizzyingly fast.

Apple also has a slew of security features in place to safeguard your financial information. When you enter your credit or debit card number, Apple replaces that number with a unique token that it stores encrypted in what the company calls its "secure element." Your information is never stored on your device or in the cloud. As more and more merchants report security breaches, Americans have realized that their card numbers are always at risk. Apple Pay's security sales pitch, which we detail in more depth here, is a convincing one.

Apple Pay is still in early days, but Apple is well-prepared for launch with solid security, ease of use, and hundreds of partners ready to hit the ground running.


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