What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay user

Apple Pay is a contactless payment system, which was launched in the US by Apple Inc. in October 2014, then in the UK in July 2015. It is a mobile payment service that uses NFC (near field communication) chips, which are built into the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and their successors, as well as the Apple Watch, enabling you to make payments for goods and services. It is a payment system that takes the place of the swipe methods of credit cards, and stores all of your credit and debit card details on your compatible device.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay allows you to place your device in front of a card reader like you would with a contactless debit card, then you would use the Touch ID sensor in order to confirm your payment. As you hold your iPhone 6 against the reader it will automatically connect with Apple Pay. After you press the Touch ID fingerprint for authentication, the phone will vibrate and make a beeping sound to make you aware that the payment has been received.

If you are using an Apple Watch, then Apple Pay is activated using a passcode in place of Touch ID on the iPhone.

If you decide to pay with the Apple Watch, then you have to double click the side button. This will trigger your stored debit or credit cards. Like the iPhone, you have to hold the device in front of the card reader, and it will then beep and vibrate as confirmation that the payment has gone through.

To set up Apple Pay, you must add your debit and credit cards digitally to the Wallet app. Within this app, you can add your cards by pressing the Plus sign and then you must enter your security code. This will be your default, but you can choose a new default or you can change your card for any payments. You can also add cards through your iTunes account or by taking a photograph of your card.

The Wallet app is a digital wallet that uses your stored cards to enable you to use your Apple Watch or iPhone as a "wallet" at checkouts.

What devices are compatible?

Apple Pay is compatible with the following models:

The iPhone SE, 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and all later models. Apple Watch paired with iPhone 5, which is running iOS 8.2 or later. It is also compatible with the iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 and 3.

You can use iPhones with Apple Pay in shops and within apps. The Apple Watch can be used with Apple Pay only in shops and the iPad can only be used within apps if they are running iOS 8.3 or later.

Who accepts Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is accepted in more than 250,000 shops across the UK. It is accepted on TfL (Transport for London) and includes the following major retailers: M&S, Waitrose, Spar, Lidl, Post Office, BP, Starbucks, Costa, Wagamama, McDonald's, Nando's, Subway, KFC, Pret, Boots, Liberty, New Look, Dune and JD Sports, among others.

Among the supported apps which accept Apple Pay are: British Airways, Argos, Lastminute.com, Booking.com, TheTrainline.com, Lufthansa, Zara, Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Domino's, Hotels.com, Just Eat, Five Guys and Ocado.

Are your rights affected by Apple Pay?

All details concerning your payments remain private and safe when using Apple Pay. Your payment usage is not tracked by Apple. If your iPhone is stolen or is lost, then your cards are protected and you can suspend your card data from Apple Pay in your settings by activating Lost Mode through Find My iPhone.

Competitors to Apple Pay

In a crowded marketplace with mobile payments, it seems that Apple Pay has found a firm foothold. However, new mobile payment systems are entering the market, which present different challenges to Apple Pay.

Apple Pay competitors within this industry include PayPal, Android Pay (which will work alongside its new service - Google Wallet), and Samsung Pay ( a relatively new mobile payment system in association with MasterCard).

Neither Android nor Samsung Pay is on the UK market yet but they are rumoured to be launched in this country at some point.

What next for mobile wallets?

What is the future wave within the mobile payment industry? It seems that innovation, change and consumer choice in this arena will continue.

It appears that both consumers and mobile payment retailers will stay with NFC due to familiarity in the short term. It is early days within this sector and so we can assume that a cash free world is not yet on the immediate horizon.

Banks are predicted to add mobile payment systems into their apps. In the US, Capital One is the first bank that has built a NFC mobile payment addition into their app. This sets a precedent for steps towards a cashless future.