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Why You Don’t Need To Be Afraid of Apple Pay

It's far safer than a wallet full of cash.

Hate the idea of your jeans’ pockets bulging with a wallet full of notes and coins? You want to go cashless. Apple Pay is making payments through a smartphone or smartwatch a smart thing to do and no, you’re not going to end up accidentally buying everyone in the queue at Starbucks a double-shot mocha with extra cream.

Apple Pay is fully encrypted and it relies on Near Field Communication so your device has to be within centimetres of the reader to work – your financial details can’t just be plucked out of the air and besides, they’re not even stored on your device (not even the retailer sees them). You don’t have to worry about someone nicking your Apple device, either. Transactions need your passcode, fingerprint or your Apple Watch to be unlocked before they’re authorised. Safe as houses.

Apple Pay by numbers

  • 1.5m locations that will accept Apple Pay by December 2015
  • 42% of US iPhone users have used Apple Pay
  • 1 million credit cards were registered in the first three days
  • 2,500 banks have signed up to support Apple Pay
  • 2 countries can currently use Apple Pay – USA & UK

How to pay by Apple Pay

1. Position the device close

Your iPhone or Apple Watch doesn’t need to physically touch the terminal, but must be extremely close. Your bank account can’t be emptied if you’re simply standing by the payment desk.

2. Make sure it’s unlocked 

Apple Pay will only work if your Apple Watch is unlocked and that means entering a passcode that only you should know. Even when you’ve done that, you have to physically double-click the side button to authorise the payment.

3. Checking the transaction 

The card you’re paying with shows on the screen but the number doesn’t. No bank details are stored on your device; your Watch checks an encrypted code linked to your account instead.

4. The Secure Element chip

There’s a grand-sounding Secure Element chip in the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch which stores a unique Device Account Number. Only this, along with a dynamic security code relating to the purchase you’re making, is sent to the terminal.

5. Verifying with card providers 

The terminal needs to check that your card provider will release the funds. It sends the amount you’re spending with your Secure Element key and an identifier that is unique to the merchant.

6. Use your fingerprint 

When you’re holding your iPhone close to the terminal, you need to press down on the Touch ID. That way, the device can read your fingerprint and prove it’s you doing the shopping (unless some fiend has sliced off your thumb)