Apple Pay is a new service that lets you use a secure element chip on your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus to pay for things at retailers over NFC, via barcode scan, and online using apps. You can use Touch ID or a pin code to authorize a payment. Your iTunes credit card will be automatically imported and you can add additional ones by scanning them in. Once your bank verifies them, you can use Passbook to select which card you want to use to pay. And... it looks great.
Credit card information never leaves the secure element, is never available to apps, and never gets stored or synced to the cloud. One-time tokens are used when you pay so your real credit card information is never at risk. Apple Pay also works on the Apple Watch. Authorize with a pin and it stays authorizes for as long as you maintain direct skin contact with it.
While it won't be available at launch, Apple Pay will ship as part of a free update to iOS 8 in October. That's on major banks in the U.S., at least. More banks and more countries will follow.
I got to see it all in action at the iPhone 6 event today and it looked ridiculously easy. I've been using pin-and-chip and NFC tap-to-pay for years and it's pretty much everywhere where I live. I can pay for groceries, gas, department store and convenience store purchases, and restaurant bills all with a tap.
However, it concerns me that if I ever drop or leave my card somewhere, someone else could tap to pay for things too. In that regard Apple Pay looks better than an NFC equipped plastic credit card. The security looks better and the convenience looks better — I don't want to carry more things and risk losing them.
Likewise, after all the stories of credit cards being compromised at retailers, I like the idea of Apple Pay providing one-time tokens instead of my original card data. Worst case, that one-time token is compromised. I don't have to replace a card.
As far as I'm concerned, Apple Pay can't come soon enough. How about you?
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.