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Apple pay comes to Edinburgh: what you need to know

Posted: 23rd July 2015

Apple pay

At mid-day yesterday there was a series of mobile phones buzzing and then people frantically typing in numbers and taking pictures of their credit cards. Why? Because Apple Pay was finally activated in the UK.
The launch of this new contactless payment system has the potential to change the way that we purchase items and view money. But what is it and how can your business make the most of Apple’s latest disruptive feature?

What is Apple pay?Apple Pay Contactless symbol

“Easy, secure and private way to pay using your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, Apple Watch, iPad air 2 or iPad mini 3.”
Apple Pay is the new digital wallet from Apple. It works in a similar way to your traditional wallet but instead of keeping your credit and debit cards in one physical location, you store them digitally using the Apple Passbook. You can upload up to 8 different cards into your Passbook and then use your phone to pay for goods and services either contactlessly or through an app using your TouchID.


By enabling you to pay for products and services through the touch of one button and using a device that you probably already have (your smartphone) Apple are reducing the friction in the traditional payment sector. Gone are the days that you need to carry around cash or multiple cards or even a wallet: You can now leave the house with just a set of keys and a phone. There are over 250,000 physical stores that you can use across the UK to buy purchases under £20 with Apple Pay and it is currently supported by 7 UK national banks . That combined with the opportunity for app based purchases of physical goods, memberships, tickets and hotel rooms I don’t think it will be long before this becomes a fairly standard payment process for low value purchases.

So it is just another digital wallet?


The idea for digital wallets has been around for a while. There are many solutions out there already from the incumbents in the digital mobile space, Google Wallet for Android or PayPal (the most popular digital wallet in the UK to date), through to the new disrupters, Square or LifeLock Wallet . So whether you have an Android, iPhone or Windows mobile you can get access to a digital wallet. With so many solutions on the market why is there so much buzz for Apple Pay? Well the excitement is around the experience of using Apple Pay. That is how Apple have made their name: by providing easy to use technology that feels as secure, if not more so, than the traditional method. By using the biometric TouchID for purchases they have created a one click process that uses your fingerprint to ensure that the purchase is secure and private. Even signing up for Apple Pay was a doddle – I uploaded 3 credit cards in the time it took Francois to make a cup of tea (around 5 minutes). I uploaded the same three cards onto PayPal and it took 3 times as long. Admittedly this was partly as I had to search for and download the app – but isn’t that another great experience from Apple: they told me that the app was active and how to quickly set it up. However the most compelling aspect of Apple’s new offering is that the devices required to utilise their wallet is already in your pocket. Apple’s market share of the SmartPhone sector in the UK has risen to 38.1% this year, up by 6% this year, and 1 in 3 of new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus sales are being made to staunch Android users. I admit that I made the jump from Android this year and have never looked back. Why? Because the experience on the iPhone 6 is the first one that I can honestly say is better than any Android device I have used.

How can my business take advantage of Apple Pay?
If you are selling either in store or online, then Apply Pay should definitely be on your radar. There are two clear ways to use it to enhance the customer purchasing experience:
1. Contactless payments
If you run a shop or any business with a physical store location and sell goods for under the value of £20 then all you need to start taking payments with Apple Pay is a contactless card reader. By switching your card reader to one that uses contactless payments systems you are all set to take payments from not just Apple Pay but any contactless card and most digital wallets. This will enhance your customer’s experience for those who want to make frictionless payments. All you need to do is contact your card reader provider and find out how you can start taking contactless payments from all digital wallets and enabled cards.

2. Pay through apps
If you sell online (whether it be physical goods, services, memberships, hotel bookings or tickets, to name a few), then you can now take payment using Apple Pay. You need to ensure that your application complies with Apple’s App Review Guidelines and have an account with an online payment provider or gateway that will allow Apple Pay. Then you can register your merchant ID, submit all of the appropriate certificates to receive the tools you need to add the Apple Pay option to your App. Your app developer will be able to help you through this process and should be able to add the option fairly simply using Apple’s instructions.

However, if you are selling virtual goods (like premium content) or in-app purchases (like extra lives for Candy Crush) then keep using in-app purchasing. Apple Pay has been developed to replace your credit and debit cards, not act as another in-app payment system.

Sounds good, but what are the costs?

money image

Again Apple are mainly interested in selling you devices so they are not charging for this new feature or for its use.
But nothing in life is for free so there may be associated costs:
• Your card reader provider may charge you to upgrade to a contactless system. Ensure that you get all of the costs detailed up-front when you contact them for information.
• If you are not registered with a payment processor or gateway there may be costs associated with it. These can be in the form of licenses or a percentage of each purchase made through the processor or gateway. Check the fees and make sure that you chose the right provider for you.
• If you want to add it to an app your developer may charge you for the work. Call them and get a quote for how much it will cost to get Apple Pay included on your app.

Do I really need to get on-board today?

Whilst there may be significant costs to upgrading your current payment systems to include Apple Pay I would highly recommend you find out what they are and add it to your digital or development roadmap.
Sure, two days since launch no one knows if Apple Pay will take off and whilst I have set it up I haven’t even had the opportunity to use it yet. But think about the way that Apple has changed our interaction with technology and disrupted our way of doing things. iTunes changed the way we purchase and listen to music – disrupting the music industry to the point it is still trying to recover.
From that lesson alone, if I was in retail I’d be costing it out today in order to plan implementing it and recommend you do too!

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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