Gadgets16th July 2015

Apple Pay hits the UK!

Apple's new contactless payment system has now launched here in the UK. Here's what you need to know.

by SL First Tech Team

 After lengthy discussions with the banks, this week sees the launch of Apple Pay in the UK. You can now make payments in stores using just your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch, meaning you could start leaving your wallet at home.

It's not the first system to introduce the idea of a 'digital wallet,' over the last few years we have seen other similar systems launched. Google launched their 'Google Wallet' for Android phones back in 2011 but it's still unavailable in the UK. EE also launched 'Cash on Tap,' their version of payments with your smartphone a few years ago, and yet none of the others have ever really taken off. However, that could all change over the next year or two as we all know the incredible marketing power that Apple has, and other mobile manufacturers have already announced their version is coming soon (like Samsung Pay).

 The system is currently only directly compatible with the newest iPhone devices (iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus) or it can also be used with the older devices (iPhone 5/5s/5c) if you also have an Apple Watch. If you are the lucky owner of an Apple Watch then for you the process of paying for things could really improve - you'd no longer have to take out your purse/wallet (or even your phone!), just a quick double-tap of the side button and put your watch near the payment terminal and it's done!

One of the big uses Apple is pushing, is it's compatibility with the Transport for London network - which means all those people living or travelling within London will be able to use the device to pay for buses, overground trains, Tubes and the DLR. As you are approaching a card reader or payment barrier, the phone automatically registers that it is near and pops up the Apple Pay screen. You can then confirm your payment by putting your finger on the fingerprint sensor.

Payments through the system are currently capped at a maxiumum of £20, but this will be increasing to £30 in Sept. It is possible for stores to make adjustments to their sales system to allow for higher payments to be made, safe in the knowledge that a fingerprint is at least as safe as a PIN - but it's currently unknown whether retailers will choose to do that.

Is it safe?

Security of your information is something all of these companies have had to take very seriously, and it's claimed that even if a criminal was able to hack or steal your device, your details should still be safe. The details about the card are stored in an encrypted (scrambled) way that can only be unlocked when the user presents their fingerprint for the phone.

Each time the phone is used to make a payment, a new single-use token is generated which means that if anyone was somehow able to capture the signal of you making a payment - it would still be useless if they tried to use it again.

There are some things to be aware of however - if you have allowed any family or friends to store their fingerprints to unlock your iPhone then they too would be able to authorise payments from any of your saved cards because they are 'authorised users' on the device. If your phone is ever lost or stolen then you are able to inform Apple and enter 'lost mode' which will block payments being made, however, some of the banks are insisting you must also inform them of a lost device or you can still be held liable for any payments made.

Which cards / banks can I use?

 Currently, there are a limited number number of banks that are supporting Apple Pay. They are American Express, MBNA, NationWide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank, but this list is likely to grow quickly. So, if you have one of these bank cards and an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch - you're ready to go!

 It is expected that HSBC and First Direct will join that list before the end of July and then in the Autumn, Apple have said the service will be working with cards from Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds, M&S Bank and TSB. 

One bank that is missing from these lists is Barclays - it is believed they are still trying to work things out with Apple so are likely to join the scheme at some point, but probably not this year.

Where can I use it?

There are a number of large companies that are being advertised as part of this launch and you can see the list here taken from Apple's website:

Apple are confirming it is compatible with 250,000 checkout locations across the UK, although in theory it should be compatible with any retailer that uses contactless (NFC) payments. That figure takes it to around 410,000 locations that will accept the payments and you check to see if it's compatible by looking for the   logo at checkouts. 

How do I use it?

Here's the steps to get started and add your first card on your phone.

  1. On your iPhone 6 open the Wallet app (or Passbook app if you're using old software)
  2. Press the 'add card' button that looks like a plus sign
  3. The camera will activative and you should line-up the card with the guide on screen and it will 'read' the card number and expiry date from your card. (It may ask you to enter these manually if it is unable to read them)
  4. Fill in the details it asks for like your name and the security (CVC) number for the card.
  5. You'll need to agree to their terms and conditions.
  6. If the card has additional security features it may ask you for a code to verify through email or text message.
  7. Fill in the code you receive through email or SMS.

When you've completed these steps you should be ready to start making payments with Apple Pay. Next time you're at a shop that offers contactless payments (remember to look for the   logo): 

  1. Place iPhone on the card reader
  2. The Apple Pay screen will appear and ask you to verify the payment with your fingerprint
  3. Place your finger on the fingerprint reader (the home button)
  4. You're done - payment made!

In typical Apple style, the system seems incredible simple to use and should 'just work,' so make sure you give it a try next time you're out and about and let us know how it goes!

Article by SL First Tech Team

posted in Technology / Gadgets

16th July 2015