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Apple Pay is here! Here's what you need to know...

Apple Pay is here! Here's what you need to know...

Category: Banking

Updated: 15/07/2015
First Published: 14/07/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Apple Pay officially launches in the UK today, but just what is it, how does it work, and will you take advantage of it? We take a closer look…

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a way for Apple users to pay for goods and services without needing to rifle through their wallets to find the right card or fish out a few pound coins from lint-filled pockets. Using "breakthrough contactless payment technology", those with an iPhone, iWatch or even an iPad can pay with a single touch of their device, so all you need is the right tech and you're good to go.

More than 250,000 shops across the UK, including key retailers such as M&S, Boots, Waitrose and Costa, will accept payment through Apple Pay from today, as will the TfL transport network across London, reducing the need for physical Oyster cards to be carried around. It can be used for contactless transactions worth up to £20 (the limit is set to increase to £30 in September), and works in much the same way as regular contactless payments, just without the card.

How does it work?

The system uses Apple's Passbook to store your debit and credit cards, much in the same way that it stores things like tickets, boarding passes and coupons. All users have to do is add the credit or debit card from their iTunes account by entering the card security code, or to add more cards they simply need to follow the on-screen instructions. Once you're set up – and have chosen which default card you want to use – you're ready to pay!

In stores that accept Apple Pay, simply hold your iPhone with your finger on the Touch ID button for payment authentication, and near-field communication technology will securely send the payment through. Alternatively, iWatch users just need to double-click the side button and hold the display up to the contactless reader (both the phone and the watch will work in the same way on the Tube and other TfL networks).

It's that simple! There's no need to open an app, with a subtle vibration and beep confirming that payment has gone through. It can be used online, too – if you're buying something using the app of a retailer that's part of the scheme, just select the Apple Pay icon at checkout, place your finger on Touch ID and you're done.

Will you use it?

The question is, will you use it? So far, customers of Santander, NatWest, RBS, Nationwide, Ulster Bank and MBNA credit cards will be able to take advantage of the new technology (provided they're Apple users, of course), with HSBC, first direct, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Halifax, TSB and M&S Bank set to begin supporting the system later in the year.

This means that a large number of banking customers will be able to get involved, and if anyone's worried about security, we've got some good news – the system has been designed to be more secure than regular contactless payments, as not only does it require Touch ID (essentially your fingerprint) to work, but it uses a secure encryption system, so your credit and debit card details are never actually shared with the retailer.

It has the potential to change the way a huge number of consumers make their purchases, and will likely grow on the already burgeoning popularity of mobile banking and regular contactless payment technology. It's a quick and simple way to make everyday payments and could be great for those who enjoy added convenience, and as long as you treat it in the same way as any other purchase – keep track of your spending and don't be tempted to make impulse purchases simply because it's easier – there's no reason not to embrace this new technology.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.