Less than a year after being officially announced Apple Pay has arrived in Britain, making it easier for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch owners to part ways with their money. The process of paying for everything from groceries to public transport will be simplified with the contact-less payment system which has launched at over 250,000 locations. With support from eight of the UK’s biggest banks there will be plenty of locations to tap and swipe Apple devices in return for goods and services.
Death of the Debit Card
It could be curtains for the Credit and Debit Cards of Apple users as Pay allows them to store multiple payment methods in the Passbook app. While it might take a while for it to happen it’s not hard to see how plastic could be left at home permanently with the ubiquity of smartphones.
Once a user’s details have been stored all they have to do is swipe and then use their fingerprint to confirm their identity. Apple pay can also be used to make payments online through shops and adverts but wherever it’s being used it will require an Apple device with a fingerprint sensor.
Much like the contactless pieces of plastic it hopes to make obsolete there’s a limit on how much can be spent in one transaction on Pay, a security feature to stop stolen cards being abused. Currently the limit is £20, expected to rise to £30, though businesses with upgraded card readers can set any limit they like.
The mobile payment tree
While Pay promises to make Apple big bucks, it earns a little bit of money for every payment (according to one source it gets a 0.15% cut of each transaction), it’s not the first to introduce contactless mobile payments and more rival services are on the way. These rivals include big names like Android Pay and Samsung Pay, while smaller apps like Stripe offer an alternative for multi-platform one-click payments.
With the initial support that Apple Pay has already received it’s going to be tough for other services to compete with it, though Samsung Pay will work on older card machines without NFC whereas Apple Pay won’t. Android Pay is also going to support fingerprint scanning but in its previous incarnation as Google Wallet it failed to take off and was only available in the US. Zapp is on the horizon and due to launch in October 2015 – a Pay-by-Bank app that enables real-time through smartphones using the user’s existing banking app.
Future payments and pitfalls
Whether or not Apple kills off credit and debit cards it seems the future of payments is going to increasingly involve smartphones, and probably some security worries. Smart payments are not without their potential security issues and pitfalls but Apple Pay seems secure enough for now with two levels of security for a transaction to go through before it gets to the payer’s fingerprint.
For online businesses making it easier, and more secure, for people to pay can only be a good thing and mobile wallets look set to offer the next big shopping revolution. However, as with anything digital it all requires battery power and people who are happier with plastic cards in leather wallets can rest assured that they won’t be left stranded at a till because they forgot to charge it the night before.
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