- Apple Pay is a contactless mobile payment system that allows customers to make payments using an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
- This payment method is secure for both users and businesses, due to tokenization and encryption technology.
- There are no fees or additional costs for businesses to accept Apple Pay.
- This article is for businesses that accept in-person payments, such as restaurants, brick-and-mortar stores and professional service providers.
As a small business owner, you want your payment system to be easy – and safe – for your customers to use while also being simple for your employees to use and track. Apple Pay is a mobile payment method that customers like using and often cite as their ideal payment method. If you are considering Apple Pay as a payment option for your business, we've outlined what it is, how to use it and the step-by-step process for implementing it.
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What is Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is Apple's contactless mobile payment system. Users access it through an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch and use it to check out at a store or restaurant. The app contains their credit card or banking information so they can simply tap their phone on a compatible card reader when they check out, as opposed to fumbling with their wallet. They can also send and receive payments from other users, pay for in-app purchases, and pay for rides on select public transit systems.
In the current pandemic economy, Apple Pay (and other mobile payment services) facilitate safe and contactless payments, which helps keep both your customers and your employees healthy and at a lower risk of exposure.
Samantha Ettus, founder and CEO of Park Place Payments, stressed the importance of contactless payments: "We are living through a pandemic, which means that everyone now has some degree of germaphobia," said Ettus. "Customers do not want to give you their cards and touch them again. The demand for contactless payments like Apple Pay has never been greater."
Key takeaway: Apple Pay is a contactless mobile payment system that is secure, hygienic and simple to use.
How does Apple Pay work?
Apple Pay is a mobile wallet payment system that utilizes near-field communication (NFC) technology to transmit payments. NFC allows two devices to communicate wirelessly when they're within close proximity of each other – in this case, the Apple Pay device and the payment system. Most contactless and mobile payment systems use a form of NFC.
To keep users' information secure, Apple Pay uses a security process called tokenization to prevent fraud and identity theft. Tokenization replaces a consumer's credit card account number with a series of randomly generated numbers, known as the token. The token travels over the internet or payment network and processes the payment without actual bank account details being exposed.
For Apple Pay, after the customer takes a picture of their credit card to enter it into the application, Apple sends the details to their card's bank or creditor. They replace the card details with a token, which is sent back to Apple and stored in the customer's phone. When they make a transaction, the app uses the token and not their actual banking information, which prevents their credit card details from being extracted by hackers.
Key takeaway: Apple Pay utilizes NFC technology and tokenization to make secure, contactless payments.
Why your business should accept Apple Pay
The two major reasons your business should accept Apple Pay for transactions is speed and security. Apple Pay (and other mobile wallets) are faster for many consumers to use than credit cards and give its users an extra layer of security through their phones.
What are the benefits?
Mobile payment methods like Apple Pay are faster and more efficient at the register than cash or physical credit cards. The transaction process is faster than magnetic-stripe or chip cards or the handling of cash, which means you'll process customers at the register faster. If your business is a restaurant or a store that sees a surge of people at one point in the day, this is especially useful – it helps you ring up customers faster, so they won't feel impatient and go somewhere else.
For customers using Apple Pay, there's an extra layer of security built in just by using their phones. Apple Pay requires fingerprint or passcode authentication before it's able to be used. Even if someone steals a customer's phone, they still won't be able to use Apple Pay, which lowers the risk of fraud at the point of sale. Compare this to a situation when a customer's wallet is stolen: The thief may make several purchases before the credit card is reported stolen.
Because of tokenization, Apple Pay and other mobile wallets are nearly impossible to hack. Paper cash and magnetic stripe cards can be counterfeited, putting you at risk for fraud. Apple Pay's individualistic payment method, however, puts you at a significantly lower risk for fraud.
Apple Pay is not a payment processor. You'll need to check with your credit card processor to find out what they need to do to accept Apple Pay. If you don't currently have a credit card processing solution, popular options include Square, PayPal and Helcim.
If you're already working with a credit card processor and your existing card reader doesn't have NFC technology, you may need to purchase new hardware.
"Apple Pay is a vehicle, which means that you need to put thought into which company you are using on the back end," said Ettus. "Look for a processor that has a rate card that will enable contactless payments on its terminal before sending it to you and exceptional phone-based customer service."
Key takeaway: Accepting this mobile payment option allows you to ring up more customers faster while providing them a safer, more convenient method of making payments.
How to accept Apple Pay
If your business wants to start accepting Apple Pay, the process to get started is quick and easy. Here are the steps to install your payment reader and set up Apple Pay:
1. Get an NFC-enabled payment terminal.
To start accepting Apple Pay and mobile payments, you'll need to check with your payment processor to see if your current hardware supports it. If it doesn't, you'll need to work with the processor to purchase and install a payment terminal that takes contactless payments.
2. Set up your reader.
Once you've purchased and set up your NFC credit card reader, test the reader to ensure it works. Then, place it so it is within eyesight of your customers and within their reach.
3. Train your staff.
When your terminal is set up, train your staff on how to accept mobile payments. Even though most interfaces are user friendly and intuitive, make sure everyone understands how to use it and has had some practice time with it.
4. Have customers place their device toward the reader.
Now that everything is set up on your end, when customers check out and want to pay using Apple Pay, simply direct them to the terminal. Four green lights should appear along with a chime sound, signaling that the payment is accepted and the transaction is completed.
Key takeaway: Getting started with Apply Pay is easier than you might think. Check with your payment processor to see whether your card reader is an NFC-enabled payment terminal. Once your terminal is set up, train your staff on how to accept mobile payments.
Is Apple Pay a secure payment option?
While we've discussed the high security level of tokens and the benefits of mobile payments, it's still a fair question to ask if your customers' banking information is secure when they use Apple Pay.
In addition to the tokens and fingerprint authentication mentioned above, the encrypted data associated with the cards is always changing. If your customers' phone is stolen, the thief won't be able to use Apple Pay to buy something at your business. The risk for a security breach is low, and your customers' data is protected.
Key takeaway: Apple Pay is a secure payment option because it utilizes tokenization and requires fingerprint or passcode authentication to complete a transaction.
Apple Pay fees
Aside from the cost of the hardware (if you're required to upgrade it), Apple Pay is free for consumers and merchants to use.
There is no additional cost for businesses to use it. Instead, Apple charges credit card issuers 15 basis points or 0.15% of an Apple Pay purchase for a guarantee that the tokenization is secure.
Key takeaway: There is no additional cost to accept Apply Pay.
Apple Pay hardware
If your point-of-sale terminal already accepts contactless credit cards or Google Pay, you're likely eligible to accept Apple Pay already.
If you're not accepting contactless payments, contact your payment provider and ask them to help you set up your point-of-sale terminal to enable Apple Pay. This may require new hardware, or it could involve a simple software or firmware update.
Apple Pay is a modern, secure, efficient and, in the post-COVID world, a hygienic way to accept payments. It makes accepting payments and checking out customers much faster than accepting cash or credit cards.
"Accepting Apple Pay lets customers know that you are modern and up to date on technology," said Ettus.
Key takeaway: Most modern payment terminals are already configured to accept contactless payments, including Apple Pay.