Cash and credit cards could soon be obsolete as Apple enables users to pay for goods at the swipe of a phone or a watch.
Apple yesterday morning announced the launch of its digital wallet Apple Pay in the UAE.
Now anyone holding a credit card from six of the country's banks – Mashreq, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, RAK Bank, HSBC or Standard Chartered – with an iPhone 6 or later can pay with their phone or watch at the checkout.
The announcement comes after months of speculation over when Apple would introduce the payment system in the UAE. The company earlier said it would expand Apple Pay further internationally by the end of the year.
The UAE is the first country in the region to get Apple Pay.
The move is a big step for the company, which aims to introduce the system globally. Apple Pay holds 90 per cent of all transactions worldwide, making it a leader in near-field communication – a technology that connects smartphones with retailers.
“The UAE is pushing everything into the smartphone we carry today,” said Dr Fadi Aloul, the head of computer science at the American University of Sharjah.
“We want to move from carrying credit cards to using a phone to pay and for that, you just need enter your details. There are many advantages, including carrying less things and the fact that it’s secure in the sense that no one can read your card details, name or number at the back, or copy them.”
The service uses the Apple Wallet and allows you to store several credit cards at a time. In a shop you hold your phone over the contactless card reader. Soon you will even be able to send and receive money over iMessage.
“It’s even more hygienic in terms of touch. You can get as close as possible without touching it,” Dr Aloul said.
More than 20 million outlets globally allow payments using iPhones and Apple Watch.
The concept was launched in the US three years ago and other countries joined later, including Sweden, Norway and Finland. Global customer satisfaction has reached 98 per cent.
“We currently have Samsung Pay but Apple Pay has more companies that are constituent to it,” said Mohammad Bushlaibi, a forensic analyst at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. “The UAE is trying to be leader in this field. They’re trying to get people into it because people complained how Samsung had it and most people have iPhones.”
Mr Bushlaibi said the move made people’s lives more convenient. “Because we’re going into a paperless environment and world, people right now have more transactions with credit cards than cash in their hands,” he said.
Card information is not stored on the device, which ensures that no one else can use the information if the phone were to be lost or stolen.
Tens of thousands of global websites will also have Apple Pay at checkout on Safari, with customers able to use their touch ID through their iPhone, which connects to their computer through iCloud. Those owning computers with touch ID can use their fingerprint.
Other users who can use Apple Pay include owners of Mac introduced in or after 2012 running macOS Sierra or later, and touch ID on the Macbook Pro Touch Bar.
Users will have to update their devices to iOS 11 or later, select the UAE as their region and have an iCloud account.
Apple’s announcement comes several months after Samsung announced it had begun its “early access phase” for its Samsung Pay mobile payments services in the UAE, with testing also extended to six banks.
What is Apple Pay?
It's all in the name; Apple Pay is a digital wallet that allows you to pay for goods - online or in-store - using your Apple-branded products.
There's no app to download, you simply use the card you have already uploaded into your Wallet. You can upload cards by using your phone's camera to read the card details.
How do I use it?
When it comes time to make a purchase in-store, simply place your finger on your iPhone's touch ID and hold your phone near the retailer's contactless payment terminal, which will then scan your details. You'll then be prompted to enter your touch ID or your passcode, after which, your payment is finalised.
On your Apple Watch, you just double-click the side button and hold the display of your watch a few centimetres from the reader.
If you're using it for online purchases, it's just as easy.
If you're using an app or using a browser, you can simply select the 'Buy with Apple Pay' option, or choose Apple Pay as the payment method.
You'll then be prompted to check your billing and shipping information, which Apple Pay will store so you don't need to enter it again. You'll then need to enter your passcode or touch ID.
Can I send/ receive money from my iPhone?
If the person you want to gift money to or receive money from also has an iPhone, you'll soon be in luck: a transaction is only an iMessage away.
Apple is soon to roll out an extension to its Apple Pay system, that will allow users to send and receive money through a simple message. The money will then be stored in your Apple Wallet, and you can transfer that balance back to your bank account.
You can also receive and redeem rewards for using the service.
What can I use?
- iPhone 6 or later in stores, apps, and websites in Safari
- iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 and later for use on apps and websites
- Apple Watch in stores and apps
- Mac introduced in or after 2012 running macOS Sierra or later and Touch ID on Macbook Pro Touch Bar
You'll also need to:
- Be using iOS 11 or later
- Have the United Arab Emirates selected as your region.
- Have an iCloud account
- Have a supported card from one of the six participating banks
How do I check my transactions/ balances?
You can view your last transactions in your Apple Wallet, and some allow you to see the last ten transactions. Each bank differs on what information will be displayed, so it's best to check with your bank to see exactly how this works.
Where can I use it?
- Tens of thousands of locations across the UAE have signed on to accept Apple Pay
- Some of those available at launch include: Apple Store, Virgin Megastore, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer, Sharaf DG, and Home Centre, among others.
- The iOS apps accepting Apple Pay so far include: Ounass, Namshi, and Babyshop