Apple on Tuesday unveiled a platform it says will allow people to ditch their wallets and use their smartphones — iPhones, of course — to make card payments.
If it sounds familiar to South Africans, that’s because local start-ups such as FlickPay, SnapScan and Zapper already offer clever smartphone payment solutions.
However, Apple is using near-field communication, or NFC, tap-and-pay technology for its solution rather than the QR code scanning techniques favoured by many of the local alternatives.
There’s no word yet when or even if Apple Pay will come to the South African market. It’s being launched in the US only for now. It’s also available only on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It’s also integrated into the new Apple Watch.
Apple’s clearly done the hard work behind the scenes to get Pay ready for commercial launch.
US consumers will be able to use it at 220 000 locations, with major retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Stapes, Subway, McDonald’s and Whole Foods on board. Apple has also developed a solution for e-commerce websites.
Apple Pay works by allowing users to scan their credit cards — MasterCard, Visa and American Express are supported at launch — and upload that information into Apple’s Passbook application. At the point of sale, the Apple Pay generates a one-time code for security. Payment is virtually instant.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his presentation that security in the card payments industry was poor and needed fixing. “We’re totally reliant on the exposed numbers,” Cook said. “The security codes that all of us know aren’t secure. It’s no wonder that people have dreamt of replacing these for years. But they’ve all failed.”
Apple moved to assure customers that it wouldn’t mine their shopping habits for data. “Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it,” said senior vice-president Eddy Cue. “And the cashier doesn’t see your name, number or security card like they do today. It’s fast, secure and private.”
If a user’s iPhone is lost or stolen, they can use an app to cancel payments on the device. Apple said there’s no reason to cancel a credit card if someone’s phone is stolen. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media