Apple's new Tap to Pay feature lets iPhone accept contactless payments

Apple’s new Tap to Pay feature lets iPhone accept contactless payments

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iPhone Tap to Pay
It will be available only in the U.S. initially.
Photo: Apple

Apple will give iPhone the ability to accept contactless payments without additional hardware later this year, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The feature, which Apple calls “Tap to Pay,” initially will be available to merchants in the United States who use a “partner-enabled iOS app.” The company says Tap to Pay will “empower millions” to use their iPhones to seamlessly accept payments.

Apple brings Tap to Pay to iPhone

“As more and more consumers are tapping to pay with digital wallets and credit cards, Tap to Pay on iPhone will provide businesses with a secure, private, and easy way to accept contactless payments and unlock new checkout experiences using the power, security, and convenience of iPhone,” said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, in a press release.

“In collaboration with payment platforms, app developers, and payment networks, we’re making it easier than ever for businesses of all sizes — from solopreneurs to large retailers — to seamlessly accept contactless payments and continue to grow their business,” Bailey said.

Tap to Pay will allow business owners with an iPhone to accept credit and debit cards, as well as Apple Pay and other digital wallets. It negates the need for a third-party card reader like those made by Square by allowing iPhone itself to act as a contactless payment terminal.

Stripe powers Tap to Pay on iPhone

That’s bad news for Square, but it’s good new for Stripe, which is Apple’s first Tap to Pay partner. Stripe will be the first to offer the feature to its business customers, including those who use the Shopify Point of Sale app, this spring. Apple says additional payment platforms and apps will follow.

“Whether you’re a salesperson at an internet-first retailer or an individual entrepreneur, you can soon accept contactless payments on a device that’s already in your pocket: your iPhone,” said Billy Alvarado, Stripe’s chief business officer. “With Tap to Pay on iPhone, millions of businesses using Stripe can enhance their in-person commerce experience by offering their customers a fast and secure checkout.”

To use Tap to Pay, merchants will simply need to hold out their iPhone. Then, a customer can place their iPhone, Apple Watch or contactless card near it. The payment will be securely completed using NFC technology, Apple said. Tap to Pay will work with 2018’s iPhone XS or later.

Tap to Pay protects privacy

The new service uses the same security and privacy technologies as Apple Pay. All transactions are encrypted, so only the merchant and customer know what is being purchased.

An upcoming iOS beta will bring a new software development kit (SDK) that allows participating payment platforms and their app developer partners to implement Tap to Pay into their apps.

“Apple Pay is already accepted at more than 90 percent of US retailers, and with this new capability, virtually every business, big or small, will be able allow their customers to Tap to Pay on iPhone at checkout,” Apple said. The company also plans to bring Tap to Pay to its U.S. retail stores later this year.