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What's Apple Pay all about then?

Kate Lloyd

Apple Pay has arrived in the UK, meaning we're one step closer to (depending on your opinion) either London's shiny tech future or an Apple dictatorship. Here's everything you need to know about the development.

What's Apple Pay?

It's a service, run by Apple, that people can use to pay for things with their phones. It was launched in the US last year.

Wait, this sounds kinda familiar...

Yep, banking with your phone isn't a new idea. You can already send and receive money using apps like Barclays' Pingit and PayM. And, you can use Flypay to pay in food joints like Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Does Apple Pay work on all phones?

Nope, only the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch, as well as the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

Well that's rubbish, I've got an Android phone.

Don't worry, both Google and Samsung are working on similar services. 

How does Apple Pay work?

First, you add your card payment details to the Passbook app. Then the service makes use of the contactless readers that are in stores and on the tube. You bring your phone or watch up to the reader and then use the fingerprint sensor when it flashes up.

Which banks are involved?

The first banks supporting the service are Ulster Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, MBNA and the Royal Bank of Scotland. HSBC will provide the service later in July, and Barclays plans to join the gang eventually. All the credit card providers have signed up, from Visa and Mastercard to American Express.

Where can I use Apple Pay?

Anywhere that has a contactless pay terminal at the checkout, but Boots, Lidl, Transport for London and M&S are all big name supporters.

So I can pay for the tube with my phone? 


How much can I spend?

Like when you use a contactless card, there's a £20 limit at the moment. That'll rise to £30 in September.

Hang on - what if someone steals my phone?

Don't worry, in theory you're safe from getting your bank account hacked. Your bank details aren't stored in the format they're in on your card, they're stored as a 16-digit token, called a Device Account Number, that's unique to the phone. Plus, your information is protected by your fingerprint. If you do lose the device, you can put it into 'lost mode' to suspend Apple Pay 

Hmm, this all seems pretty positive – what's in it for Apple?

The Financial Times report that Apple's convinced American banks to give them a 0.15 percent cut of each payment (from the bank, not from you). Plus, it encourages more people to buy Apple tech. 

Should I expect very specific targeted advertising in the future?

No, Apple can't track where you're spending. But, if you have 'location services' turned on they can see the time and place an item was bought.  They'll know someone bought a tuna sandwich meal deal at Oxford Street Boots, but they won't know it was you. 

More tech questions answered: Is WhatsApp actually getting banned?

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