The U.K. may be ready for Apple Pay, but is Apple ready for the U.K.?
The Telegraph reported over the weekend (June 6) that Apple is expected to make the announcement today (June 8) at its event that Apple Pay should be heading to the U.K. sometime this summer. Apple has been in discussions with British banks and retailers since last year about launching the mobile payments service in the region, but have since been mum on details.
The U.K. is an important market for Apple as contactless spending hit over $3.5 billion (£2.3 billion) in 2014. It seems the contactless payment infrastructure is more widespread than in the U.S., where contactless payment adoption has been slow.
“What they announce next will help determine if Apple Pay moves from the nice-to-have bucket to the must-have bucket for both merchants and shoppers," Thomas Husson, an industry analyst at Forrester, told The Telegraph.
One card network in particular, MasterCard, said it's primed to start Apple Pay contactless payments in both the U.K. and Europe – all that is needed is the go-ahead from Apple itself.
The International Business Times reported Thursday (June 4) that MasterCard stands “absolutely ready” to bring the payments, defined by a tap on a device, live.
The Apple service is on track to be rolled out in several locations internationally, said IBT, with the announcement of the timing for a worldwide rollout possible for as soon as Tuesday (June 8), during the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
In an interview with reporters, MasterCard representatives said MasterCard is "absolutely ready" to bring Apple Pay to the U.K. "That's one of the advantages of doing this on a global platform. It's there, it's switched on, we just have to connect the services at the back end... it takes a couple of days," the company stated.
Upon connection, to use the service, Apple Pay users must add credit and debit card information to their iPhone. Once that information is entered, the devices can then be used to make payments of up to £20.
With a nod to some U.K.-specific applications, IBT noted that Apple Pay can also be used on the Tube and other Transport for London services. Shashi Verma, who heads the customer service department of the transportation systems, said contactless payments have helped shepherd customers quickly through stations, with 18,000 new contactless cards used daily.
And, IBT said, MasterCard is looking to broaden how wearables can facilitate payments. The company said it is developing a new system that will identify a customer's unique heart ECG pattern and then in turn authenticate payments. One device that can already do this (as can others, using heart monitors) is the Apple Watch, which ultimately eliminates the need to enter a PIN.
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