Apple Pay launched in the UK on 14 July, and we've been trying out the mobile payment system to see how easy it is to use, and whether it really has the ability to be a game-changer in our move towards a cashless society.
The first thing to note is that the system is fairly limited at present in who can actually use Apple Pay in the UK. You need to have one of the latest generation Apple devices: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 or the Apple Watch.
And once you've passed that hurdle, you need to bank with one of the banks currently supporting Apple Pay - HSBC, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide Building Society, RBS, Santander, Ulster Bank and MBNA - or have an American Express, MasterCard or Visa issued by the credit card providers.
The first thing you need to do to get going with Apple Pay is to set up a supporting card. Luckily, we're one of the small band of possible users, as we've got a supported credit card and the iPhone 6, along with an Apple Watch.
Setting up the card should be a straightforward process. You just open Passbook on your iPhone, click the + button on the top right corner and you'll be able to hold the phone over your payment card to store the details using the inbuilt scanner.
Once you've completed this step, you need to verify the card details by requesting an SMS with a one-time code or calling the issuing bank.
Unfortunately for us, we had an old mobile number associated with our card account and had to go through the latter process, which was long and painful with random questions thrown at us about our star sign and the first two letters of our dog's favourite food, or something.
So hot tip here: make sure your mobile number is up to date on your bank account so you get the quick and easy text message verification.
Once we'd been verified, our bank went ahead and activated a token, which meant that our card was approved for use, with details stored in Passbook. You can save multiple cards into Passbook to use with Apple Pay, and the app will default to the first one you saved in originally. You can change this by visiting Passbook and Apple Watch in the Settings menu, and changing your default card.
If you're trying to pay with a card not accepted in a certain store or app, such as American Express, you'll be able to pass payment over to the next card in your Passbook.
Hitting the shops
We decided to carry out our first tests on the high street, using our iPhone 6. There are already more than 250,000 locations accepting Apple Pay, according to Apple. You can see the whole list on the Apple Pay site.
We chose our trial locations based on distance and requirement - basically we needed some toothpaste and food so we went to Boots and Marks & Spencer, as these are near our office.
Apple Pay is supported in most shops in exactly the same way as contactless payments, meaning there's a £20 limit. This will rise to £30 in September as the contactless limit also rises.
Pay and go
Once you've picked your items and queued at the tills, just choose to pay via contactless, and then hold your iPhone over the payment terminal in the same way you would a payment card.
Remember to actually place your iPhone on the reader. If you just hover over it, the payment won't process. You don't need to have Passbook open as the card details should just pop up and then ask you to use Touch ID to make the payment.
Marks & Spencer is one of a small number of retailers currently accepting high-value transactions, meaning there's no limit on the amount you can spend. We didn't have time to start trying on clothes or shopping for expensive shampoo, so we just laid out £1.60 in our transaction.
When we got to the self-service payment terminal, we had to choose to pay by credit card from the options on the screen - there was no Apple Pay or contactless symbol.
But the Apple Pay logo was displayed on the card reader, confirming that we could have spent any amount, and again the transaction was very smooth. We just held the iPhone across the top of the reader with our thumb over the Home button and the item was ours.
So far, we've been impressed with Apple Pay. It's incredibly simple to set up, and using it in store is quicker than fishing around in your pocket or bag for a purse or wallet and then finding your payment card. As so many of us have our phones glued to our hands now, it means you can pay for goods with no effort at all.
We'll be trying out Apple Pay again over the next few days on an Apple Watch and also for in-app purchases using an iPad, and will update this article to confirm higher value purchases as soon as we find an excuse to make some.
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