On Tuesday morning, Apple announced a feature called Tap to Pay on iPhone. The feature allows merchants in the United States to accept payments with Apple Pay, contactless debit and credit cards, and other digital wallets via a single tap to the iPhone. Tap to Pay does not require any additional hardware, such as a payment terminal.
Apple says Tap to Pay will soon be available for payment platforms and app developers to integrate into their iOS apps. Stripe will be the first platform to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone. Stripe’s business partners will be able to integrate Tap to Pay later this spring. Apple says that more platforms and apps will adopt Tap to Pay later this year as well.
Apple introduces Tap to Pay on iPhone
Merchants can use a supporting iOS app to unlock contactless payment acceptance on their iPhones. The merchant will prompt customers to hold their payment method near the iPhone at checkout. The payment will complete securely using NFC technology.
Apple explains that Tap to Pay uses the same technology that makes Apple Pay private and secure to protect customer data. Every transaction conducted using the feature is encrypted and processed using the Secure Element. You can read more about that on Apple’s support site. Apple will never know what was purchased or who bought it.
Apple repeatedly emphasizes that Tap to Pay on iPhone doesn’t require additional hardware. That appears to be a rather blatant reference to Square. Square requires merchants to buy a separate payment terminal in order to accept payments.
It’s also worth noting that Tap to Pay will only work on iPhone XS and newer devices.
More details and a recent leak
Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, shared the following statement:
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. 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.
Apple says Tap to Pay will work with credit and debit cards from American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa. Apple also notes that Tap to Pay on iPhone will be available to participating payment platforms and their app developer partners in an upcoming iOS beta.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this news did leak late last month. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman revealed that Apple would introduce a new feature turning every iPhone into a portable payment terminal. Given the timing of the leak, it seemed possible that Apple would unveil the feature at its rumored March event. The company opted for a press release instead.
Speaking of which, Apple is expected to announce the iPhone SE 3 on March 8th.