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Everything you need to know about Apple Pay

Apple wants you to go shopping with only your iPhone in your pocket and leave your wallet at home. Here’s how the system works.

Apple best defines what a self sufficient ecosystem should look like and once you buy into it, it’s difficult to get out of it. What started off as a company that sold personal computers, is now the world’s most recognisable smartphone manufacturer, makes smartwatches, tablets, has one of the largest music streaming services, and now, its own e-wallet. So let’s take a look at this addition to the Apple family of services dubbed the Apple Pay.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay had been in works for quite some time before it was officially announced in 2014 alongside iPhone 6. Apple had been acquiring payment related start-ups, hiring people working in the field, filing patents and partnering with the giants in the payment industry including MasterCard and Visa for quite some time before that.

Apple Pay is a digital wallet and mobile payment system that lets users make secure transactions through their Apple devices. The system uses two factor authentication which is a combination of the Touch ID and a PIN/Passcode. It uses NFC to communicate with payment terminals. It can also be used to pay within various applications and websites.

Apple Pay on iOS 8.1 and can be used to make physical payments in stores using iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus. 6S Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus. The previous generation of devices (iPhone 5, 5C and 5S) didn’t come equipped with NFC chips but can still be setup to use Apple Pay by pairing it with Apple Watch.

It also works with iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 3 and 4 and MacBook Pro for in app and web based transactions.

Apple Pay
Apple Pay faces competition from Samsung Pay and Android Pay

How does it work and how secure is it?

According to Apple, using Apple pay is very ‘easy, secure, and private’

So how exactly does it work and what makes it so secure?

Every card that is scanned and added to your wallet to be used for Apple Pay, is assigned a unique number called a ‘token’ which is stored in the phone instead of your card details.

iPhones have a dedicated chip on board called ‘Secure Element’ that encrypts and stores a number of private user information including the credit card details, and the unique token. None of this is uploaded onto your iCloud accounts or Apple’s servers. Every time a transaction is going to be made, the token along with a dynamic security code (unique to each transaction) is shared with the reader via NFC. The dynamic security code ensures that the transaction is being done via the original device containing the Token.

To finally authenticate the transaction TouchID is used which ensures that it is you who is using the device. In case you are using an Apple Watch, something called Skin contact is used to ensure that the device is with the original owner. How this works is that every time you wear your Apple Watch you are asked to enter a pass code and as long as the device maintains a contact with your skin (monitored using heart rate sensors), you can make transactions through it.

Where can you use it?

Apple Pay can be used primarily in 2 ways – for physical transactions at stores and online for in-app purchases or web based transactions on your apple devices.

Apple Pay was initially launched exclusively in USA, followed by releases in UK, Canada, Australia, Russia, Italy, France, China, Japan and a few other countries across the globe bringing the number up to 15. It supports all major credit and debit card providers in the USA and most of the big banks across the globe including, American Express, Bank of America, Chase Citi, Barclays and American Express.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay has moved into many Asian countries over the last year, but still Apple hasn’t announced any dates for its launch in India. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO had met ICICI bank CEO, Chanda Kochar, during his India visit earlier this year but in an interview, he said that Apple is still trying to figure out the Indian market. Though with Samsung Pay recently launched in India, it should be safe to assume that Apple will be bringing Pay to India soon.

As reported by Fortune, during a conference call with analysts recently, Tim Cook said the company has seen over 450% growth in the number of transactions done via Apple Pay over a year, with more than 10 million contactless payment terminals across the globe supporting it currently. Apple Pay is supported by almost 90% contactless payment terminals across the USA with more than 1600 banks in the USA having partnered with Apple. All these numbers show a steady rise in the number of people using digital wallets, but it is still far from becoming mainstream. Also, the company faces competition from Samsung and Android digital wallets, both dubbed ‘pay’, with the former launched in India recently. The race is still wide open and it will be sometime before someone comes out in the front.

How to set it up?

Setting up your Apple Pay account is an easy process. All you need is a supported device updated with the latest version of iOS, watchOS or macOS, a card from a supported card issuer, and an apple ID signed in to iCloud. Apple Pay lets you add upto 8 cards on any one device and each card needs to be added to each different device if you want to use it with multiple devices.

To setup Pay on your iPhone:

  • Open the Wallet and select ‘Add credit or Debit Card’ under Apple Pay
  • Follow the steps and enter the relevant card details
  • Once your bank or card issuer has verified all details, you are good to go


  • Go to settings> Wallet & Apple Pay and Select ‘Add credit or Debit card’
  • Follow the steps displayed and enter all relevant details of your card
  • Once your bank has verified all the information, you tap next and your Apple Pay account is ready to use
  • You can select your default card from within the app

Apple Watch

  • Open the watch app on your iPhone and select ‘Wallet & Apple Pay’
  • Follow the steps on the screen and add your card.
  • Once your bank verifies all the details, tap next and you are done
Apple Pay
To pay for stuff using your apple watch, all you have to do is place your wrist in front of the reader and press the side button twice

MacBook Pro with Touch ID

  • Go to system preferences> Wallet & Apple Pay
  • Tap add card and follow the on screen instructions to add card details
  • your bank verifies the details start using Apple Pay.

How to use it?

Apple Pay can be used in 3 ways basically

  • To pay in stores using your iPhone or Apple Watch
  • For in app purchases on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch
  • To pay online on websites in Safari using your Mac, iPhone or iPad
Apple Pay
Once the payment is done, your phone/ wallet vibrates and displays a confirmation

To pay in stores using your iPhone or Apple Watch, follow these steps:


  • Place your finger on the TouchID and move your phone close to the contactless reader and your transaction will be done automatically using your default card. If you want to use any other card, move your phone close to the contactless reader without placing your finger on the TouchID, and wait for your default card to pop up on the screen. Tap it and all your cards will show up. Select the one that you want to use and rest your finger on the TouchID.

Apple Watch

  • Double click the side button on your watch and wait for your default card to appear on the screen. Swipe to switch cards and hold your watch near the reader to pay.

This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Fast Track on Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Purusharth Sharma

Purusharth Sharma