THE BLOG

Apple Pay UK Is Two Weeks Old, So How's It Going Down In Blighty?

28/07/2015 20:51 BST | Updated 28/07/2016 10:59 BST

Apple Pay is now a fortnight old here in the UK (roughly teenage in tech years). Having unveiled its revolutionary contactless payment service in the UK, Apple hopes that one day, we'll all ditch the plastic and spend our hard-earned cash via our iPhones and Apple Watches.

But don't all go flocking to the shops without your wallet. Apple Pay is still only reserved for those with newer iPhone models. Only the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch are compatible with Apple Pay, so if you want to join the elites, you'll have to upgrade.

Let's wade through the hype surrounding this exclusive club and ask: do we actually need Apple Pay, or is this just a cunning way to get us all upgrading?

The security is impressive. A system called tokenisation makes payments safer than ever before. That's because your phone does not have access to your card number, so bank details are never actually shared with the terminal.

Also, like contactless payments, Apple Pay transactions are limited to £20, making it that bit harder for phone thieves to go on spending sprees. Apple Pay can be disabled if your phone is stolen, although it is unlikely that a thief will have access to your fingerprint to activate a payment, unless you're also missing a hand.

This is all crucial stuff. The only way to assuage consumer fears over security and fraud, and there are many, is to ensure your security features are impenetrable.

A whole host of banks and shops have already signed up to use Apple Pay, from Waitrose, Pret a Manger and Liberty, to McDonalds and Lidl. It's already got reach as Apple Pay is available at around a quarter of a million locations across the UK. And the UK should be more receptive, as we're more used to contactless payments than consumers in the US.

But two weeks in, and Apple Pay is already experiencing some teething problems, notably on the London Underground. TFL has warned travellers that they could be charged the £8.80 maximum fare for a single journey if their phone battery dies mid-trip - and they could be liable for an even heftier fine if a ticket inspector can't read their dead Watch or iPhone.

Things for HSBC haven't gone quite so smoothly either, with customers who expected to be able to use Apple Pay taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations over delays. HSBC are set to join their fellow financial institutions in the Apple Pay club by the end of the month.

So are we on track towards a cash-less and card-less society? All in all, these appear to be minor hiccups. And when you're trying to disrupt an entire industry, teething trouble is par for the course.

Apple Pay seems to have hit the ground running here in the UK and it - along with the inevitable next set of mobile-payment-providing newcomers to the market - may well revolutionise the payment marketplace, when enough of us have upgraded to newer iPhone models of course.