Visa is working with Apple to roll out Apple Pay across Europe in 2015, following the service’s US launch scheduled for October.
Enabling contactless payments via NFC chips built into the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch, Apple Pay was developed in partnership with major credit card brands, notably Visa and American Express.
This daunting task of bringing Apple Pay to the European continent will be achieved via the 1.5 million Visa contactless payment terminals found in stores across the continent.
Pedro Sousa, head of contactless and mobile payment for Visa, told V3 that the company had no confirmed date for its rollout of Apple Pay, but the service will reach European shores next year.
In practise, customers of both Visa and Apple will be able to add their Visa credit and debit card details to iPhone 6 models or the Apple Watch.
After that the devices can be used to carry out contactless payments in stores or via one-touch online payments, verified by Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Steve Perry, chief digital officer at Visa Europe, believes Apple’s entry into the contactless payment space is a pivotal moment for the company. “Apple’s entry to the market represents a critical piece of the mobile payments jigsaw,” he said.
Perry went on to describe how Apple’s decision to enter the contactless payments market reflects the “scale of opportunity” that exists in digital payments.
Sousa supports Perry’s view and adds that Apple has taken mobile and digital payments and combined them into one easy-to-use service that appeals to consumers and businesses, adding: “Not only does [Apple Pay] work as a tech, but also as a viable business space for companies.”
Sousa explained to V3 that Apple Pay uses Visa’s tokenisation service that replaces credit card numbers with another set of identifying but not financially compromising numbers, thereby enhancing security.
These “token” numbers are then stored on the Secure Element chip in the latest iPhone, rather than stored on the mobile’s memory or in Apple’s cloud services.
In effect, by working with Visa, Apple has made Apple Pay a user-friendly but highly secure mobile payments service.
Sousa believes that Apple has achieved this by using a “combination of physical and e-commerce payments” and by building the service together with its devices rather than making Apple Pay an add-on feature.
In contrast the equivalent Android NFC payments service, Google Wallet, was developed as a feature that would slot in to other devices running the Android OS.
Unfortunately, the lack of market penetration indicates that Google’s approach might not suit the needs of its customers.
While Visa has been championing Apple Pay, Sousa told V3 that Visa is “payment agnostic” citing the company’s other work in the field of contactless payments, which have included the use of smartcards.
Describing the contactless payments ecosystem as “highly scattered” Sousa added: “Visa needs to build this [contactless] capability across our partners to meet all the possible ways to get to consumers.”
Visa has some lofty ambitions for digital payments and hopes that the combination of mobile and contactless payments will contribute to 50 percent of its total payments by 2020.
The features of the iPhone 6 include more than just NFC. V3 has written a full round-up of what Apple fans can expect when the phone is released.