Apple Pay won't come to the UK until 2015

The contactless payment service will only work with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus using established - but unloved - near field communication (NFC) technology

James Vincent
Friday 12 September 2014 16:04 BST
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about Apple Pay during the iPhone launch in California.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about Apple Pay during the iPhone launch in California.

Apple Pay may be available to iPhone 6-owning Americans next month, but UK customers will have to wait until at least next year to use the contactless payment service.

Speaking to TechRadar, Visa’s mobile head Pedro Sousa said: “We don’t have any concrete dates, but we’re talking about next year.”

In America however Apple has already partnered with the six biggest issuing banks (covering 83 per cent of total US payment volume) and is working with large chains including Subway, McDonalds, Staples, Walgreens and Whole Foods.

The sluggishness on behalf of the UK isn’t a surprise to analysts, however, who have long bemoaned the failures of mobile payments to take off – despite the technology being available on many smartphones for years.

This has been partly due to the catch-22 of availability (customers don’t use mobile payments because shops don’t have terminals; shops don’t have terminal because customers don’t use them) but also due to security fears.

Apple of course is confident that it has hit upon a secure solution, by combining its fingerprint-scanning technology Touch ID with a new ‘Secure Element’ chip located within its handsets that store users’ credit card data – but that pays retailers with proxy data so that sensitive information is never being exchanged through the air.

At the user end the payment process seems much simpler. iPhone owners simply touch their device to a payment terminal, scan their finger or thumb print, and it’s done. (This scanning process also means that if the handset is stolen thieves won’t be able to start racking up a bill on it.)

The system certainly isn’t impregnable (Touch ID was hacked 48 hours after it was released – although shops might notice if you tried to validate a payment with a latex thumb) but Apple’s reputation with handling iTunes payments could give the tech the boost it needs.

Still, with scandal only a single iCloud-leak away, perhaps the UK is better away waiting a bit longer to see how safe Apple Pay really is. Americans will find out when the service goes live in October.

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