The iPhone has been conspicuously absent from the smartphones offering “mobile wallet” options due to its lack of NFC (near-field communication) ability. But Apple may have just been waiting to roll out Apple Pay, its own version of the mobile wallet which made its debut on October 20. The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (as well as the Apple Watch) are all Apple Pay enabled.

Although Apple Pay is very new, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook over 1 million users signed on during the first three days that it was available. Apple Pay is already more widely used that any competing payment system.

The purpose of all mobile pay programs is to eliminate the need for cash or credit cards (to say nothing of old-fashioned checks) in making purchases.  With Apple Pay the customer will simply hold an iPhone or Apple Watch up to a contactless point-of-sale device to make a quick payment.  Checking out becomes both easy and secure.

An interesting added security measure is described in this article in Business News Daily: “The first layer of security comes from the new iPhone hardware itself. When buyers are checking out with Apple Pay, they will hold their finger over the Touch ID fingerprint reader embedded in their device’s home button. That ensures thieves can’t use Apple Pay on a stolen phone.”

Should you be prepared for customers using Apple Pay? The initial rush of users will probably be young people wanting to make smaller purchases without the hassle of using a credit card.  So if you are in a campus area, or have many smaller transactions, Apple Pay may be worth investing in.  In the long run Apple Pay is likely to have a wider demographic reach than other mobile wallets, in part because Apple made the wise decision early on to partner with American Express, MasterCard and Visa, as well as many national banks, to make sure they support the platform.

If you decide to accept Apple Pay, you will need to have an NFC reader in your checkout system. Talk to your credit card processing company about whether you feel it is worth investing in the necessary new hardware at this time, or perhaps in the future if mobile payment becomes more mainstream.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder