Apple Pay launched today (14 July) in the UK, marking the first availability of the service outside the US.
Apple announced last month it would use the UK market as the launch pad for Apple Pay outside of its home market, followed by expectations it would debut on 14 July. It is available in 250,000 retail locations.
Supported by iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch, Apple Pay enables user to to make payments via their devices, similar to the use of contactless debit and credit cards.
“The UK is an important market for Apple because the level of contactless penetration in cards and accepting terminals far exceeds that of the US,” Eden Zoller, analyst at Ovum told Bloomberg.
Apple is of course not the first to launch an electronics payments service, and chief executive Tim Cook is banking on Apple’s global popularity as a way to further encourage loyalty of its products.
But it will face stiff competition from the likes of Google, which recently announced its own Android Pay service, although as yet the search giant’s efforts are focused on the US market.
Apple’s biggest handset rival, Samsung, is also rolling out its own service, Samsung Pay, although Europe is not among its initial launch markets.
How and where to use Apple Pay
Apple customers will now be able to use their latest devices to make purchases across a wide range of outlets, up to the value of £20 per transaction, rising to £30 in September – although some reports said that a number of vendors are already accepting payments beyond these limits.
A number of high profile retailers have signed up to the service, including BP, Costa Coffee and McDonalds, and commuters will also be able to use their Apple devices to pay for travel on the London Underground and bus network.
To gain access, a user is required to add payment card details to Apple Pay, and the service is supported by the UK’s leading credit card providers – Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
A number of banks are also supporting the service, including NatWest and Santander. HSBC was also listed to be involved, however pulled out at the last minute, stating it was not quite ready.
Research from the KantarWorldPanel indicates there are presently 2.9 million Apple Pay compatible devices in the UK.