Apple has confirmed the launch of its Apple Pay contactless payments service in the U.K., after the initial launch in the U.S. nine months ago. The service works with the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch at NFC terminals in shops, and the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 also support Apple Pay for payments within apps. The Touch ID on the devices means users only need to hold their fingers on the TouchID pad to confirm the payment. In order to access the service, users need to link a credit or debit card to their Apple account using the Passbook app. Any payments are then deducted from the selected card. The service works with Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards and counts the support of nearly all the major retail banks in the U.K. At launch, people who bank with MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, RBS, Santander and Ulster Bank will be able to load cards into Apple Pay. Other banks will follow in the coming months. An estimated 250,000 points of sale will support the service initially.
Apple Pay represents a type of m-payment that is particularly attractive in the developed world—as opposed to the developing world, where m-payment has taken off as a solution for the unbanked and the geographically remote. Apple Pay allows users to link bank accounts and credit card accounts to their devices, offering primarily convenience rather than any unique advantage. So far it is only on its second market, so time will tell how successful it will be, but in markets such as the U.S. and the U.K. where a large percentage of the mobile user base owns Apple products, it could do very well, provided also that enough banks and merchants are willing to participate. Given the prevailing obsession in the developed markets with Apple’s devices, we feel it is highly likely that they will be willing.