Apple Pay is here. From today, iPhone 6 and Apple Watch users will be able to upload their card details to their phone and use the handset to make contactless payments.
It’s been heavily trailed and expected since the iPhone 6 was launched last year with NFC technology installed. After all, having NFC technology installed on handsets, something Apple had long held out against, surely means payments are an important end goal.
So, the launch is something that hasn’t surprised anyone in the payments sphere. Yet what might have surprised people is how widespread its adoption seems to be. Every major bank in the UK is supporting Apple. Equally, 250,000 retail outlets (anywhere that currently offers NFC payments) will accept it and consumers will be able to use it online too.
Far from being something others in the payments industry should be concerned about, a successful launch and widespread adoption of Apple Pay is something that should benefit us all.
Alternative payment methods, including NFC, haven’t always been as successful as the industry has hoped for. They have been held back by merchants being unwilling to invest in technology, banks being unwilling to support them and consumer concerns about security.
Nonetheless, the NFC technology needed to support Apple Pay is already in place in many high street outlets, although large supermarket chains have so far been unwilling to adopt, perhaps as they are keener on customers spending above the £20 transaction limit. And, with today’s news that Barclays has agreed to adopt the service at future date, it has the support of Britain’s banks too.
The underlying reason for this support could be that Apple isn’t charging anyone for the service, hoping that iPhone and Apple Watch sales will cover costs, and merchants and banks are willing to attract the Apple audience and keep up with the payments demand.
And, as for security, anyone making a payment with Apple Pay has to verify themselves using their fingerprint. It’s the same method already used to make iTunes purchases so it is an authentication method that iPhone users will already be familiar and comfortable with.
Yet there has to be a note of caution surrounding security. iPhones are already popular items to steal for thieves and having a user’s bank details stored on them will make them even more attractive. While iPhones do have a well-deserved reputation for being more difficult to hack than Android and Windows powered devices, it doesn’t mean they are impregnable.
Adopting triple factor security to the Apple Pay process might be a way to add that extra-level of protection. iPhone users are already accustomed to using a combination of fingerprint and PIN to access the phone itself. But Apple Pay only offers dual factor (the phone itself and fingerprint).
Adding the simple and familiar four digit number back into the security mix would give the security a triple lock without causing any inconvenience to users. The PIN has the power to make Apple Pay the most secure payment method on the market.