Contactless payments and mobile wallets may be making their way to the mainstream in the United States over the past few weeks. However, our friends over in the UK have been utilizing this technology for ages now.
That being said, both customers and financial institutions are excited for the potential release of Apple Pay in Europe and the UK. The Daily Telegraph reported that Apple and the top UK financial institutions are in talks to support UK customers. However, those in the UK with US-bank cards -- like a Bank of America or Chase credit card -- can use Apple Pay in the UK.Our CMO Rurik Bradbury tested it out, making a purchase at Boots (you can see the confirmation notification he received above).
How is this possible? The necessary infrastructure is already in place, since the UK and Europe have been using contactless payments for years now. And Apple actually didn't use any new or innovative technology when adding Apple Pay -- it uses the same NFC technology to transfer information as other mobile wallets do. So merchants have NFC-equipped terminals and know how mobile wallets work -- unlike retail employees in the US.
With the infrastructure in place, Apple Pay could be much more important in foreign markets than it has been in the US. In fact, analysts have told me weeks prior to the release of Apple Pay that releasing it in Europe or another market first would have "guaranteed" success (they did admit that it was incredibly unlikely). Also, beacon technology is far more advanced in Europe -- a financial technology expert told me it was hard to walk around London without a beacon notification popping up in the lower left hand of his iPhone.
What's holding up Apple from releasing Apple Pay in the UK right now? Deals with the banks, as The Telegraph reported. In the US, the major banks and Apple did a lot of haggling but, in the end, the banks gave in to Apple's demands. In the UK though, contactless technology has already taken off and the banks aren't desperate for Apple to save them, which gives them more leverage. While there may be some haggling between the two parties, most expect that Apple Pay will be coming to the UK soon.
When it comes to payments technology, the UK is far more advanced than the US. With merchants, customers, and financial institutions all experienced in the tech, Apple Pay could be far more successful in the UK than it has been so far.