Can I pay by iPhone?
Apple has just taken the wraps off two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and its first ever smartwatch in the Apple Watch. But another of its announcements, Apple Pay, could prove to be more influential than any of them.
So what is Apple Pay, and why should you care about it?
Apple’s mobile payment system
Apple Pay is Apple’s belated entry to the mobile payment market. Once up and running, you’ll be able to make payments in shops by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch next to the provided payment point, using your fingerprint to authenticate. No more plastic cards or PIN numbers!
It also works online with apps, so for example, you’ll be able to order and pay for a cab through Uber with a virtual button press and Touch ID fingerprint authentication.
How Apple Pay works in shops
The new iPhone 6 range, as well as the Apple Watch, contain NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. This wireless standard allows for the secure and highly localised transfer or data between two devices, making it perfect for mobile payments.
All you’ll need to do to make payments with your Apple device will be to hold your iPhone or Apple Watch up to a compatible payment point and authenticate, and the appropriate payment will be taken from your account.
Apple Pay compatibility
Apple Pay will work through Apple’s recently announced trio of devices: the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and the Apple Watch.
In fact, the Apple Watch will even enable you to use Apple Pay with older iPhone devices. Pair it up with an iPhone 5 or later, and you’ll be able to use your phone to store and manage your cards, with the Apple Watch acting as the means of payment connection and authentication.
SEE ALSO: Apple Watch vs Android Wear
Is Apple Pay secure?
You betcha. In fact, it’s probably more secure than those old card payments you’ve been making over the years. Yes, even the chip-and-pin ones.
Part of that is because all secure data is kept away from the retail outlet and its staff. They don’t see your name or your card number.
The iPhone applies a dynamic one-time security code in place of the fixed data stored in the magnetic strip of your cards, so there’s really no need for any of these retailers to store any of your data. Even Apple itself won’t know any of your purchase history.
What’s more, if your iPhone is ever lost or stolen, you can remotely suspend the use of of all payment card information from it through Find My iPhone.
SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus
How you’ll set Apple Pay up
If you already have a payment card on Apple’s system (which is highly likely if you’ve ever used iTunes before), you’ll be ready to roll as soon as you purchase an iPhone 6. But adding a new card shouldn’t be much of a pain either.
You can use the iPhone 6’s camera to take a picture of the card you want to add, and clever software will pull out the relevant data. You’ll then need to verify with your bank that this is indeed your card, then add it to the Passbook app. Yes, that card-storing app that’s sat forgotten in a folder on your iPhone for the past two years.
Apple Pay support
Apple has formed partnerships with dozens of retailers covering some 220,000 stores to accept Apple Pay payments. These include McDonalds, Disney, Staples, Nike, Whole Foods, Toys R Us, and Subway, with plenty more to come.
As for the payment system itself, Apple has gained support from the three major payment cards – Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. It has also reached agreements with half a dozen banks, including Citi, Chase, and Capital One, with another five announced as coming soon.
Apple Pay Availability
Apple Pay will launch in October and will form part of iOS 8. However, there’s a slight catch to all of this – Apple Pay will be US-only for now.
There’s no indication of when Apple Pay will step outside of the US either, though we’re hopeful that it won’t be long. After all, each of the retailers and institutions we’ve listed above are multi-national operations, and many markets outside of America have already begun to support NFC payments.