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Apple Pay: Five things you need to know

Apple Pay: Five things you need to know

Apple Pay promises to change how we pay forever.

With contactless payment technology and unique security features built into the compatible devices, it could spell the end of the wallet.

But how does it work? And how secure is it? Let's find out.


apple pay iphone 6

Apple Pay uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology for one-touch payments.

Just tap your phone against the reader in a shop – just like a contactless debit card – while holding down the Touch ID button. And that's it.

You don't even need to look at the screen – a subtle vibration and beep lets you know the payment has gone through.

It also works with the Apple Watch. Double-click the button below the Digital Crown, and hold the Apple Watch near the reader. Again, a subtle buzz and beep let you know it's gone through.

Because Apple Watch is compatible with the iPhone 5, 5S and 5C, anyone with these handsets can use Apple Pay, as long as they have an Apple Watch synced to them, of course.

2 Secure Element

apple pay partners

Apple promises that Apple Pay will be more secure than other digital wallets thanks to a neat new encryption method.

When you add a credit or debit card to Apple Pay, the card numbers aren't stored on the device or on Apple's servers.

Instead, Apple gives you a unique Device Account Number, which is encrypted and securely stored in something Apple calls the Secure Element on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Every time you buy something, the transaction is authorised with a one-time unique number using your Device Account Number.

It doesn't access your credit card number, or the security code on the back of your card.

If you lose your phone, you can stop transactions from it using Find My iPhone.

Apple doesn't track your transactions either, so it doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid.

Your most recent purchases are kept in Passbook if you want to look back over them, but that's as far as it goes.

Apple Pay sounds much safer than other digital payment systems. But we'll have to wait and see how it stands up against the best efforts of digital ne'er-do-wells.

3 Online shopping in apps

apple pay examples iphone 6

You don't need to fill out any forms when shopping online either. Just select Buy With Apple Pay, and hold down the Touch ID button.

You can use it to buy anything, as long as the vendor has enabled Apple Pay.

The examples Apple gives are a pair of headphones (Beats, of course), a chicken salad, and a taxi from Uber.

But there's really no limit to what you can buy using it. As long as you have sufficient funds, that is.

4 Simple set-up

apple pay

In typical Apple fashion, Apple Pay is a doddle to set up and start using.

It works through Passbook, the app that stores your boarding passes, tickets, and coupons.

You can add the card from your iTunes account to Passbook by entering the card security code.

To add a new card using your iPhone, take a photo of it using your iSight camera. Or you can type the details in manually if you prefer. But who wouldn't take the photo option?

The first card you add automatically becomes your default option, but you can change this in the settings, or select a different card for a one-off payment.

5 Coming October

apple pay screen detail

Apple Pay will be available in the US in October as a free update in iOS 8.

Apple has already signed up American Express, Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Citi and Wells Fargo, and will soon add Barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, USAA and U.S. Bank.

There's no word on when it'll arrive in the UK. We'll bring you more news as we get it.

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