Apple's new mobile wallet could help your customers pay with their cellphones. Apple Pay is a new payment platform that lets buyers use the new iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch to pay for items or services without reaching for a plastic credit card. It's far from the first mobile wallet platform to launch on smartphones, but Apple's effort could help the technology hit the mainstream — and that has implications for small business owners. Apple Pay lets users link their phone or smartwatch with their bank account to provide a quick, easy and secure checkout system for your customers, so entrepreneurs should be ready for it. Here are the top three features for small business owners:
Apple Pay will let customers complete transactions without forking over cash or swiping a plastic credit card. The system works because the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch are the first Apple devices to include near-field communications (NFC) chips. The chips let you hold any iPhone or Apple Watch up to a contactless point-of-sale device at a retailer for quick and easy payment. Small business owners who want to accept Apple Pay will have to incorporate NFC readers into their checkout systems. The system will work with most U.S. credit cards when Apple's new iPhones launch on Sept. 19. Apple has already partnered with American Express, MasterCard and Visa, as well as many national banks, and dozens of major retail stores have pledged to support the platform.
Apple Pay could help eliminate the divide between online and offline shopping, since the same system will also let buyers pay for items on the Internet. Retailers will be able to incorporate Apple Pay into the online checkout systems on their website, as well as in a business's dedicated app, though the details for Apple Pay integration haven't yet been announced. For iPhone users, Apple Pay could be a handy alternative to other Web-based payment systems like PayPal. Small business owners would be wise to watch out for more information on how to incorporate Apple Pay into their e-commerce efforts.
Of course, customers won't want to use any new payment platform if they're not convinced that it's secure. Apple Pay uses several layers of security to help put buyers at ease. Here's how it works.
To set up Apple Pay with a payment card, consumers must first set up an account in Apple's iTunes Store. You can enter your information manually, or simply snap a photo of your credit or debit card with your iPhone to have your info automatically pulled in. Finally, you'll need to verify your account with your bank.
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.
The iPhone's NFC chip itself is designed to encrypt each user's payment information. Additionally, Apple Pay doesn't transmit your card data to the retail merchant. Instead, it uses a security code system that transmits a different code for each payment, meaning that stolen transaction data can't be used to make additional purchases. As a final layer of security, users can disable Apple Pay from their Web browser at home if their phone is lost or stolen, and then activate it again when they find their device or get a new one.