A Brief Guide to Using Apple Pay

Apple Pay has made a big splash in recent months as it joins the growing number of contactless payment options available to the UK consumer. From Apple watches to iPads and iPhones people are starting to get comfortable paying for purchases with a simple swipe of their favourite high tech device. But for those who have yet to try Apple’s new payment app, or who may be a bit leery of jumping into the fray, the process may seem a bit confusing….even off putting. But never fear, Apple Pay is simple to set up and easy to use. This short how-to guide will teach you everything you need to know about Apple’s new contactless payment application.

Who Can Use Apple Pay?

Only Apple customers can use Apple Pay, and the feature is only available on select devices. The iPhone 6, iPad Mini 3, and iPad Air are all compatible with Apple Pay, as is the new Apple Watch. Each of these devices uses the company’s own Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology to authenticate and authorize transactions. However, only iPhones and Apple Watches can be used in high street shops, as iPads and tablets lack the necessary Near Field Communication (NFC) chips that enable the device’s direct communication with a vendor’s contactless card reader. Of course, iPads and tablets can still be used to make online purchases, with Apple Pay adding another layer of security to the transaction.

How Does Apple Pay Work?

Apple Pay is much like any other digital wallet. It uses Passbook (soon to be renamed Wallet) to store your credit and/or debit card information. The app itself is passive, and you never to need to open in it in order to complete a transaction. Simply wave your iPhone or Apple Watch over the contactless card reader, and the NFC chip inside will send the necessary data to the vendor’s device. Apple has incorporated two extra security measures to maintain the integrity of your transactions. The first uses Touch ID fingerprint scanning to verify that it is you making, and authorizing, the transaction. The second security measure is called ‘tokenisation’, and it involves issuing a unique code to the retailer which identifies the transaction, and ensures that it can only be processed once. This protect you from being charged twice (or more) for any single purchase. Tokenisation also prevents hackers from accessing your payment information via the vendor’s card reader. If the shop owner’s system is breached, the only data the criminals will have access to is the unique code that represents your transaction. Your credit and debit card information remains safe and secure.

Setting Up the App

Apple has made their mobile payment app extremely easy to set up and use. If you already have an iTunes account (which is a safe bet) you can easily transfer your credit or debit card details to Passbook/Wallet by simply entering the card’s security code. Additional cards can be added by simply tapping the ‘plus’ sign in the Apple Pay app and following the onscreen prompts. If you want to set up the app for your smartwatch, simply open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and follow the same prompts.

Using Apple Pay is equally as easy, and you won’t have to open any apps or even wake up your device to complete a transaction. Simply wave your phone or watch over the vendor’s card reader, and the NFC chip will do the rest. Verifying the transaction is simple. If you’re using an iPhone simply hold your finger against the scanner to authorize the purchase. Your phone will vibrate and beep when the transaction has been successfully completed. If you’re using an Apple Watch, all you have to do is double click the button on the side while holding the watch up to the card reader. Again, your watch will vibrate and beep to indicate that the transaction has been completed and verified.

Banks and Credit Card Companies

The top three major credit card companies. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, are already on board with Apple Pay and have been since the outset. Individual banks may initially have been reticent to partner with Apple for its mobile payment app, but that is quickly changing. Currently, the following banks are supporting Apple Pay for their customers:

  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • NatWest
  • Nationwide
  • Ulster Bank
  • Santander

A cluster of other banks, including Lloyds, Halifax, and M&S, have intimated that they will get on board by the end of this year.

Spending Limits

Apple Pay currently has a spending limit of £20, though this is expected to increase to £30 by the end of September. Higher value payments will eventually be allowed, as vendors upgrade their contactless payment software and the application becomes more popular. One would hope that this will happen sooner than later, but it will take some time for retailers to make the necessary upgrades.

With more than 250,000 shops in the UK accepting mobile payments, Apple Pay is sure to gain real momentum over the next year or more. It is already estimated that 4 out of 5 Apple Watch owners use the app as their preferred payment method for casual purchases, and more users are bound to come into the fold as Apple introduces new mobile devices that feature the app. Apple Pay is a simple and secure way to handle everyday transactions, and with set up being as easy as it is the future looks bright for mobile payments in general, and Apple Pay in particular.

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