Written by Philip Magson
Apple Pay is finally active in the UK. With a first wave of banks onboard, customers are already using the app to pay for a range of goods and services… but does your business need it?
Apple Pay, which launched in the UK on the 14th of July, lets iPhone 6 users wirelessly pay for goods and services at over 250,000 retailers, working much like your contactless credit card; simply hold your device near a card reader and press the home button to activate Passbook, which will beep or vibrate to indicate payment has been received.
The idea of smooth, contactless payment is obviously an appealing feature for customers, but what kind of benefits will it bring to small business owners who have to think harder about set-up expenses? We take a look at the pros – and cons – of adopting Apple Pay in your small business…
Apple Pay takes advantage of the encrypted Near Field Communication capability of the iPhone 6: upon activation, the iPhone will contact the vendor’s card reader with a unique security code to transfer payment details. This encrypted message is much safer than a credit card transaction since no personal information is ever used. But what if you lose your phone? The iPhone’s Touch ID sensor adds another level of security to Apply Pay transactions – only your fingerprint can authorise a payment, preventing anybody else from using your iPhone’s Apply Pay app if you happen to lose your device. More security means offering more peace of mind to your customers.
That said, NFC is a new technology, and with that comes uncertainty… Ultimately, you’ll have to judge for yourself how confident you feel about inputting financial information into the Passbook software.
Apple has a track-record of helping innovative technology take off and if NFC sees similar success everyone – from enterprise to the corner shop – will be using it. While this might seem like a downside (use it or get left behind), it’s worth remembering small businesses can adapt to change much quicker than larger organisations… Apple Pay could allow smaller businesses to jump ahead of their enterprise counterparts and snap up customers early on.
A factor which puts many small businesses off adopting new tech: Apple Pay will require NFC card readers which could cost over £500… quite the gamble for a technology that may not be a success with customers. It is, however, quite possible your business won’t need to upgrade: many newer card readers are already NFC-equipped and will be able to handle contactless payment. If you don’t already know what kind of payments your reader can handle, now is the time to check.
“With the possibility of building e-commerce into the payment system, Apple Pay has the potential to help your small business reach more customers than ever before. While real-life checkout will, in theory, be smoother, Apple is promising tools which allow for Apple Pay to be incorporated into online checkouts, ironing out the experience for both ‘digital’ and ‘analogue’ shoppers.
It won’t all be plain sailing: while the idea of contactless payment is all about making things easier, staff will need to be trained and customers educated in its use – all considerations which involve time and money.
A final point to consider: while there are millions of us, iPhone users are in the minority of smartphone users. Even amongst iPhone devices, Apple Pay is restricted to the iPhone 6 (and the Apple Watch) so don’t expect to see flocks of customers immediately breaking down the door to use contactless payment. There are still plenty of reasons to be confident: the iPhone 7 is going to be launching soon (rumours say September), so those numbers are going to increase – and NFC card readers will work with other online payment systems, which will be being rolled out for other devices.
Are you confident about a contactless future? Will you be setting up your business to accept Apple Pay? Share your thoughts with us here…