Apple has confirmed that its Apple Pay contactless payment system, which allows payment with an iPhone or Apple Watch, will be rolled out to the UK from next month.
The company announced the UK launch at its worldwide developers conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. Apple Pay will be available at more than 250,000 UK locations, including high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Costa Coffee and also Transport for London – meaning that Tube and bus travel can be paid for using the system.
However the UK’s three major supermarket chains – Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda – have not yet signed up to Apple Pay. Asda’s US parent, Walmart, is also a non-participant.
Major UK banks will offer the system, with the exception of Barclays. However, the BBC reports that Apple Pay payments will be limited to a maximum of £20 – in line with other contactless payments in the UK. This limit on contactless debit and credit cards is due to rise to £30 in September.
Apple Pay will be supported by more than 70% of the credit and debit cards in the UK, said Apple executive Jennifer Bailey at WWDC. The UK will be the first country outside of the US to have access to Apple Pay.
“The payments industry has a lot to thank Apple for – not the least for making a lot of people familiar and comfortable with online payments and digital wallets,” commented Spiros Theodossiou, vice president (VP) of product strategy at e-commerce company Skrill.
“While Apple Pay has seen slower than anticipated adoption in the US, much of this is due to the far smaller base of places where Apple Pay can be used (contactless terminals) there.
“The good news for Apple is that the UK has embraced contactless payment methods with 58m contactless cards issued and a 330.8% rise in contactless payments in 2014, according to the UK Cards Association.
“As consumers do more on their mobile phones, they demand more connected and immediate experiences. This is what is driving the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung to tackle the payments space.”
However, a London summit on the industry’s introduction of the technology cautions that testing and acceptance are still at an early stage and firms should proceed with caution.
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