Most people would describe Apple Pay as a try by Apple to tap into the mobile banking sector, as we’ve seen happen with a lot of banks and telecommunication providers around the world. Relying on NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, the service works the same way that a credit card would whenever you’re about to do a contactless payment. The only differences that exist between paying via Apple Pay and paying through your card is that the former was designed to be so much more secure. Back in 2014, Apple’s Eddie Cue emphasized how the service keeps all of your personal information private during any transaction: “When you’re using Apple Pay in a store, restaurant or other merchant, cashiers will no longer see your name, credit card number or security code, helping to reduce the potential for fraud”. The tech behind all this is quite intriguing since the app would have to be integrated with your credit card through a process known as tokenization.
How Apple Pay Works
Apple Pay has been developed to rely on a stand-in “token” that’s generated and exchanged between your device and the payment terminal. The token system is designed to prevent any transfer of your actual credit card information, thus taking care of any loopholes that might exist as avenues for credit card fraud. This feature works in conjunction with another one called a cryptogram; this being a unique number that represents your transaction. Once the transaction is recognized and confirmed not to be fraudulent, a funds transfer occurs signifying the actual payment for your product or service. This whole process begins as soon as you authenticate your purchase through your Touch ID, or your secret passcode.
Setting Up Your Apple Pay Service
Before we get into what Apple pay can do for you, let’s take a look at the steps you need to go through to have the service set up on your iPhone:
- Ensure you’re running iOS 8.1 or later.
Open Wallet & Apple Pay by heading over to Settings.
Tap on “Add Credit or Debit Card”.
If you’re already using the same card that’s on file in iTunes, then you’ll only be prompted for the security code. Type it in.
If not, you might have to use your phone’s camera to take a picture of your credit card. Your phone might then send the details to your card’s issuing bank or network.
You’ll receive a lot of prompts based on how your card handler conducts its verification process. Follow through with any instructions given.
That’s it. You’ll now be able to make your purchases via Apple Pay.
Where You Can Use Apple Pay
The uptake of the service in the US didn’t really go as well as Apple had predicted, but surprisingly, UK users really took a liking to it. The 30 pound limit that had been placed on all contactless payments even got lifted for Apple Pay users; keeping in mind that the limit still applies to all credit & debit card payments (as of September 2017). The service works almost anywhere you’re able to pay for something trough contactless payments. This includes retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and a lot more places.
When Apple announced the service, it took some time for it to be accepted as an acceptable form of payment despite the concept not being entirely new at the time of launch. Google Wallet and Android pay were already gaining traction in the market and becoming more popular among Android users.
With an adoption rate of 35% in the US, the use of the service is slowly on the rise, and it seems like more and more people are warming up to its use. This would be primarily because of the convenience it offers its users, and the security measures used to safeguard the whole process.
Apple Pay on iOS 11
Apple Pay is set to undergo some major upgrades with the launch of Apple’s latest software release; iOS11. A lot of the new additions are meant to make it a lot easier to manage your money, with the introduction of Apple Pay accounts set to be the biggest step forward that the service is making thus far.
iOS 11 will automatically set up Apple Pay accounts for all of their users from which they can both deposit and withdraw money whenever they need to make a transaction. The upgrade only goes as far as sending money between Apple users, but we’re sure that soon enough everyone will be able to send & receive money through the app.
You’ll also be able to use the service for in-app purchases. This comes as a welcome move especially to the many app developers who are looking to tap into the Apple consumer market. A lot of fans are already psyched up about the integration of the service into iMessage, thereby allowing users to send & receive money among other iPhone users without leaving the conversation.
Apple Pay Security Features
The level of security of the service is quite simply, very impressive. Apple maintains that none of its users’ credit card information is stored in its servers, since whenever data moves between your bank, your phone and Apple, it changes in form and gets encrypted. Your credit card details aren’t even actually stored on your phone; they’re in a completely separate part of the phone’s hardware known as a Secure Element, which is virtually impossible to hack into.
Using Apple Pay also involves authenticating payments through your thumbprint. This is the last step of the whole procedure and it takes less than a second for the Touch ID sensor to confirm your identity. The Touch ID sensor is regarded as the initiator of two other security elements that exist to safeguard the whole system; the first one is the token number (tokenization) and the other is the cryptogram; a code that uniquely identifies the device from which the token number is being generated from. Using your Touch ID is, however, not mandatory, as you can also choose to rely on a passcode to confirm payments.
If you don’t feel like pulling out your iPhone to use Apple Pay, then you can also use your Apple Watch and make the whole process a lot faster. As soon as you’ve added your cards through the Watch app on your iPhone, all you’ll have to do is hold your watch close to the contactless payment terminal until you hear a beep or vibration.
Now, if you’ve ever used an Apple Watch before, then you’ll appreciate the fact that you have to enter a passcode every time you put it back on. This prevents anyone from using services such as Apple Pay without authorization. You also don’t need to have your iPhone around when you’re using your watch to make payments. This means you can pass by a store at the end of your morning run and buy some water without necessarily having carried your wallet or Phone. Super convenient!