Apple Pay goes live in the UK

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Apple is storing people’s credit and debit card details in Passbook – a native app on the iPhone and iPad.

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Apple Pay has finally arrived on the UK high street several months after it launched in the US.

The service 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.

In order to make a payment through an iPhone the user must hold the smartphone near a contactless reader with their finger on the TouchID. There is no need to open an app.

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.

Credit card providers Visa, Mastercard and American Express have all registered to use Apple Pay, as have a number of banks, including Ulster Bank, Nationwide, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

HSBC was due to be listed up until Monday evening but now it claims it’s not ready. A HSBC spokeswoman told the BBC that the reason for its absence was not linked to it leaking the launch date over the weekend.

It’s understood that Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and TSB will also join soon, as will Barclays, possibly the biggest name not to feature on the launch day list of compatible banks.  

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.

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.

Dr Felicity Hardley a senior lecturer at Westminster Business School said:“Apple Pay might become the preferred form of contactless payments for consumers before long.Today’s launch of Apple Pay could dramatically accelerate the use on contactless payments by consumers and could increase sales of iPhones and the Apple Watch.

“A significant number of consumers already have the technology to utilise Apple Pay which means they can ‘try it out’ with relative ease and no additional expense, unlike the new Barclaycard wearable contactless payment devices.

“Consumers are increasingly comfortable with contactless payment methods due to being able to use debit or credit cards on public transport and in many retail outlets already. This takes out some of the fear factor in this new payment method. The fact that Apple already has so many major retailers signed up is the final signal to many consumers that this payment method should be safe.”

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