Apple Pay is Apple’s own digital payment platform that allows users to purchase goods at the store using their iPhone or buy items online using a shopping app on their device.
Apple Pay was officially launched on October 20, 2014 alongside the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone and iPad, and the service works only with the latest iOS devices, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 and the Apple Watch. However, older iPhones like the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c can gain Apple Pay support if paired with an Apple Watch.
It’s a payment service that’s completely free to use and is built into iOS’s Passbook app, which is an app that can store loyalty cards, gift cards, boarding passes, tickets, etc.
Apple Pay allows you to store your credit card information on your iPhone and use it to buy stuff at any physical retail location that supports Apple Pay. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have an NFC chip that allows you to tap the pay terminal at a store and scan your fingerprint using Touch ID to instantly buy goods. Furthermore, doing this doesn’t give the store your credit card information, so you’re less susceptible to store hacks that can steal credit card information, similar to the Home Depot and Target hacks last year.
Setting Up Apple Pay
To set up Apple Pay, you first need to make sure that the bank associated with your credit or debit card is supported, so be sure to check out the list of Apple Pay-supported banks before continuing. Next, open up the Passbook app on your iPhone and swipe down anywhere on the screen until you see a plus icon appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. Tap on that plus icon.
Next, tap on Set Up Apple Pay to begin the process. There are two ways to add a credit or debit card to your Apple Pay wallet. One way is to quickly add your card that you already have on file with Apple for iTunes purchases. You can tap on Use Card on File with iTunes for this, or just select Use a Different Credit or Debit Card. If you choose the former, all you’ll need to do is enter in the security code of that card and click Next to add to your Apple Pay wallet.
If you choose to add your own credit or debit card, the process takes a bit longer, but is still quick and really easy.
When selecting Use a Different Credit or Debit Card, you can either enter in the card details manually (your name, the card number, expiration date, and security code) or take a photo of your card and have Apple Pay enter in those details automatically by reading the numbers on the card using the camera, but you’ll still need to enter in the security code manually.
Depending on what card you add and what bank it’s with, you may have to use that bank’s verification system. For Chase cards, you have to get a verification code from Chase in order to verify, which can be done through email or phone, but after you receive it and enter it into Apple Pay, the card will be verified and activated.
From there, open up the Passbook app, and your added credit cards will be shown at the top, while your other miscellaneous Passbook cards are on the bottom.
How to Use Apple Pay
Apple Pay is one of the simplest digital payment platforms on the market, mostly thanks to its convenient way of paying for goods at the store.
To use Apple Pay at the store, first make sure that the store you’re at supports Apple Pay in the first place by checking out the list of Apple Pay-supported stores. From there, head to the store, pick out your items and head to the cash register.
Once the cashier is done scanning your items and is ready to receive payment. Simply hover your iPhone 6 over the pay terminal, leaving about an inch or two between the two devices. Your iPhone should automatically detect the pay terminal and open up Apple Pay.
From there, simply just place your finger or thumb on your iPhone 6’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor to authorize the payment. It should take only a second and you’ll be on your way in no time.
Keep in mind, though, that some stores will require you to provide more information, even after using Apple Pay, such as entering in your PIN on the pay terminal if you’re using a debit card.
Is Apple Pay Safe & Secure?
While Apple Pay can be great, one big thought that many users have is the security and safety of Apple Pay. After all, you would think it’d be easier for hackers to steal your credit card info if it was stored on your iPhone, since there have been so many hacks on digital services recently.
MasterCard has a handy infographic on how Apple Pay works, but first and foremost, when you add a credit card to your Apple Pay account, it doesn’t get sent to Apple’s servers for storage, but rather is only stored on your iPhone, so the only way that someone could technically use your credit card without your permission is if they had your iPhone in hand and also had your exact same fingerprints, considering that you have to use Touch ID to authorize a purchase. As you may know, fingerprints are unique, so it would be practically impossible for someone else to use Apple Pay on your iPhone.
Furthermore, Apple Pay uses a system called “tokenization.” When you add a credit card to Apple Pay, the system generates a random account number that associates with your iPhone, but not your credit card number, so whenever you go to pay for something at a store using Apple Pay, that random account number is sent through the store’s system rather than your actual credit card number.
So, in that sense, Apple Pay is actually more secure than using a physical credit card at the store, as your actual credit card details are not given to the store at all when you use Apple Pay, which also makes you less susceptible to store hacks like the ones we’ve seen recently from Target, Home Depot and many other retail chains. If hackers were to break into credit card systems of national chains, they wouldn’t get your credit card info since you never gave it to the store in the first place.
Of course, Apple Pay isn’t the second coming of Christ, but many banks have lauded the security of Apple’s payment platform to the point where they will be liable for any fraudulent purchases. Most banks already have this kind of policy in place anyway, but it’s still good to know that Apple Pay won’t be hung out to dry if hackers actually do end up breaking into Apple Pay somehow.
As with anything, hackers can always find their way into secure systems, and we actually wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple Pay hacked into somehow, but the only way that it could be breached, even remotely, would be through stealing someone’s iPhone or using social engineering to hack into an account. The traditional ways of hacking into a server or mainframe wouldn’t work here.
Even if your iPhone does get stolen and the thief has access to your information, there’s no way that they could just browse through your iPhone and bring up your credit card information, as iOS blocks out all info except for the last four digits of your card, and they wouldn’t be able to take your phone and pay for something at a store, as they would need your fingerprint to authorize the purchase through Touch ID. You can also simply just log on to Find My iPhone on any computer and disable Apple Pay payments from your iPhone if it ever gets lost or stolen.
In the end, though, no, Apple Pay isn’t 100% secure. Hackers will always find a way in, although the methods to do so probably won’t be as orthodox. Security experts say that hackers could create an amplifier to boost the signal of the wireless iPhone payment by standing near the checkout terminal while you’re buying your groceries, and there have also been ways where you could technically fake a Touch ID scan by using carefully-made rubber fingerprints.
However, Apple Pay certainly isn’t any less secure than using a physical credit card, so if you’re paranoid about the security of Apple Pay, just know that your physical credit card in your wallet or purse isn’t any more secure.