How to use an Apple Watch for Apple Pay

Posted by Ian Kar on April 23, 2015

With the first batch of Apple Watches about to hit doorsteps, one of the big questions many will have is how to use Apple Pay with the new wearable device.

What you need

The Apple Watch will enable mobile payments for the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, or 6+ and will work even without a biometric fingerprint scanner. Since the Watch and iPhone are paired once the watch is put on, there’s no need to use your phone to make a mobile transaction. Of course, you’d need the Apple Watch itself. Pricing ranges from $349 to $10,000 (seriously) and you can check out all the models here.

How it works


1)    Put on the Apple Watch

2)    Use your iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, or 6+ to unlock your Apple Watch. It can be unlocked with Touch ID or a passcode.

3)    As long as the watch remains on the user’s wrist, it will remain unlocked and able to conduct mobile payments.

4)    For those that are extra paranoid, users can alter the settings so that you need to input a passcode for every purchase.

5)    To activate Apple Pay, double tap the side button. Select the credit or debit card you want to use and hold the Apple Watch near the terminal. A haptic vibration and sound confirms a user’s purchase.

In an interview with CNET, SVP Eddy Cue shed some light on how Apple Pay will work on its new wearable. However, Cue said it would work just as well, and securely, without an added password, “You can [type a password] if you want to, but you won't normally have to," Cue said. "Right now the watch is unlocked, and I could do all of it without having to type any code. If I [took it off and] handed it to you, now you'd have to type in a security code or unlock it from your phone."

How Apple Pay is different on the Apple Watch

From a technical standpoint, the Apple Watch uses much of the same technology as the iPhone 6/6+ use. Both are NFC-enabled and use tokenization technology, which turns a credit or debit card number into a unique 16-digit alphanumeric code for added security.

However, there are a few differences between using Apple Pay on the Watch versus the iPhone 6/6+. Apple Pay is activated on the iPhone 6/6+ through proximity, so when your phone is close to an NFC-enabled terminal, your credit card will appear. On the Apple Watch, Apple Pay can only be triggered if you double tap the side button below the digital crown.

The decision to change the Apple Pay user experience for the Apple Watch may be to conserve battery life. Though it doesn’t take up that much power, a proximity feature may have drained too much power by being “always on” from a device that needs all the juice it can get. It also may prevent accidental transactions (if you use your “Watch arm” to swipe a credit card on a terminal, the Watch would be very close to the NFC-enabled POS).



Topics: Apple Pay, Payments, Apple