Apple Pay coming to France, Switzerland and Safari

Monday 27 June 2016 | 11:49 CET | Background

Apple will expand its mobile payments ecosystem in the coming months. With Hong Kong, France and Switzerland the number of Apple Pay markets will grow to nine. Apple Pay will also integrate with the Safari browser on iOS and MacOS devices. That means that online merchants show the Pay with Apple button next to the shopping cart. Beta testing is underway.

At their World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced that Apple Pay will be available in Hong Kong, France and Switzerland soon. Apple Pay launched in mainland China this year, Hong Kong took slightly longer. France is potentially an interesting market for Apple Pay. It can be considered an established market for NFC payments. Banks have brought large numbers of dual mode cards in circulation and this has helped pave the way for the installation of NFC capable payment terminals at more than 400,000 points of sale.

The mobile operators have launched mobile payment solutions several years ago. The operator-led Cityzi consortium has faltered in 2014 when Bouygues pulled out, but several operators continue to offer mobile payment. Orange enables NFC card payment on a large number of Android smartphones, from various brands. Orange Cash is a rechargeable prepaid account. Over 200,000 Orange customers have used it since it launched in October 2015.

Linking Orange Cash to Apple Pay will bring in new customers. Orange has not provided a specific launch data for the integration of Apple Pay but the banking and insurance group BPCE said the service will be introduced from July. 

In France from July

At launch in France, Apple Pay will be supported in store with Apple, Bocage, Le Bon Marche, Boulanger, Carrefour, Cojean, Dior, Eram, Flunch, Fnac, Gémo, La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Louis Vuitton, Orange, Parkeon, Pret à manger, Sephora, Simply Market and Total.

The footprint for NFC payments is actually much larger than that, but these retail brands have committed to supporting Apple Pay and promoting it with their customers. Details are still scarce at this point, but support may be extended beyond accepting card payment and into linking Apple Pay to mobile apps and customer loyalty programmes.

While small, Switzerland is also an interesting market. Apple is the dominant brand, capturing almost 80 percent of smartphone sales a few years ago, then ceding ground to Android but still dominating with over 50 percent market share. The dominance of the iPhone and inaccessibility of its NFC hardware have forced mobile payment developers to look elsewhere for the technology.

Mobile operator Swisscom has partnered with several banks to develop the Paymit mobile payment service, which relies on QR-code. Several other banks have launched Twint, based on Bluetooth beaconing. Both therefore require new or different equipment at the cash register and a break of routine from card payment – NFC card payment is well established. Paymit and Twint are both relatively new, but may face an uphill battle when Apple Pay launches. Merging the two services may not be enough.

In Europe, Apple Pay is now live in the United Kingdom. France and Switzerland have been announced, other markets may follow. Apple is not only expanding its geographical footprint, it is also introducing new features on iPhone, with the release of iOS 10 in the fall.

Pay with Safari

Apple Pay has been available for in-app payments for some time on iPhone and iPad. This in-app payment will be extended to the Watch as well, once the updated WatchOS 3 is pushed out to the devices. Furthermore, developers can integrate payment with Apple Maps, Messages and Siri.

At the same time, Apple announced integration with the Safari browser for iOS and MacOS. Many consumers shop online using the browser. From the autumn onwards, websites can add Apple Pay to the list of payment options at checkout.

On iPhone or iPad, this payment is directly linked to authentication with fingerprint. On a Mac, the browser will use the Handoff functionality to send a payment request to the iOS device. A payment can be finished by picking up the iPhone and using the fingerprint sensor.

Online merchants can develop these features if they have a developer account with Apple, or turn to an intermediary. Apple has reached agreements with e-commerce platforms Demandware, IBM and Shopify to offer deep integration. Furthermore, over forty payment service providers globally support Apple Pay for in-app payments. Apple is confident that those companies will also develop the functionality for Safari.

As announced, this feature will be available with the Safari browser on Mac. It is likely that many Mac owners will also have an iPhone. However, many Mac users have chosen Chrome or Firefox as their primary browser. Many iPhone owners use a Windows pc. Apple Pay is therefore just toeing in on online payments. It will not be generally available in the way a credit card or PayPal is.

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