The question of when European iPhone owners can expect to start using Apple Pay may be answered sooner rather than later. Visa Europe has announced that it is putting in place the infrastructure to allow contactless payment terminals to support the “tokenization” service used by Apple Pay.
The technology will be in place by mid-April, after which Apple could theoretically introduce Apple Pay anytime it wishes.
Tokenization, for those unfamiliar with it, creates a one-off code that substitutes a user’s credit card details for a random code when they make a payment, thereby reducing the risk of online theft.
While the European payments system is very different to the one in the U.S., there is no doubting how successful Apple Pay has already been in the United States. In its first three months, more than $2 out of every $3 U.S. customers spent using “contactless” systems at the three major credit card networks was carried out using Apple Pay.
Steve Perry, Visa Europe’s chief digital officer, says he is looking forward to Apple Pay — although he’s not giving a definite date for the technology just yet. “Apple and Visa … have an agreement around what has happened,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “I am as excited as anyone, but we have to wait.”
Predictably, Apple hasn’t made an announcement just yet — but the company has made several proactive moves: recently poaching away Visa Europe’s director of mobile, Mary Carol Harris, to reportedly help launch the NFC payments system in Europe.