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Updated Jan 17, 2024

How Your Business Can Accept Apple Pay

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst

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As a small business owner, you want to offer customers easy and secure payment options that are straightforward to use and track. Apple Pay is a mobile payment method many customers like and even prefer. It also offers numerous benefits for businesses. We’ll explain how businesses can start accepting Apple Pay and share the upsides and drawbacks of this mobile payment system. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

How to accept Apple Pay for your business

Getting started with Apple Pay is quick and easy. Follow these steps to install a payment reader and set up Apple Pay:

  1. Get an NFC-enabled payment terminal.
  2. Set up your reader.
  3. Train your staff.
  4. Have customers place their device toward the reader.
  1. Get an NFC-enabled payment terminal.

Apple Pay uses near-field communication (NFC) technology. To start accepting Apple Pay and other NFC mobile payments, you need an NFC-enabled payment terminal. Check with your payment processor to see if your current hardware supports this payment method. If it doesn’t, work with the processor to purchase and install a payment terminal that takes contactless payments.

  1. Set up your reader.

Once you’ve purchased and set up your NFC-enabled payment terminal, test it to ensure it works. Then, place it where your customers can easily see and access it during checkout. 

  1. Train your staff.

When your terminal is set up, train your staff to accept Apple Pay digital payments. Ensure they understand the customer’s point of view as well as the salesperson’s. Even though most payment-acceptance interfaces are user-friendly and intuitive, ensure everyone understands the system and gets practice time using it.

  1. Have customers place their device toward the reader.

Now that everything is set up on your end, direct customers to the terminal when they want to use Apple Pay at checkout. Once the card reader and their device connect, four green lights should appear along with a chime sound, signaling that the payment is accepted and the transaction is complete.

FYIDid you know

All the best credit card processors can provide your company with the tools it needs to accept Apple Pay and other NFC mobile payments.

What are the benefits of accepting Apple Pay?

Speed and security are the two primary Apple Pay benefits. 

Apple Pay is fast and efficient. 

Mobile payment methods like Apple Pay save time when compared to magnetic-stripe or chip cards or handling cash. You can process checkouts faster, which is especially useful if your business sees a surge of people at specific times. When customers check out faster, they won’t feel impatient and go elsewhere.

Apple Pay is more secure. 

When using Apple Pay, customers benefit from an extra built-in security layer just by using their phones. The Apple Pay app requires fingerprint or passcode authentication. Even if someone steals a customer’s phone, they won’t be able to use that person’s Apple Pay, lowering the risk of payment fraud at the point of sale. Compare this to a situation where a customer’s wallet is stolen: The thief may make several purchases before the credit card is reported stolen.

Additionally, Apple Pay uses an encrypted security technology called tokenization. Tokenization means Apple Pay and other mobile wallets are nearly impossible to hack. In contrast, cash and magnetic stripe cards can be counterfeited, putting business owners and consumers at risk for fraud. Apple Pay’s unique payment method significantly lowers that risk.

Did You Know?Did you know

When your business is set up to accept credit card payments on mobile devices, you can process payments from anywhere.

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 Apple Pay app stores their credit card or banking information; when they check out, they tap their phone to a compatible card reader instead of fumbling with their wallet. They can also send and receive payments from other users, make in-app purchases, and pay for rides on select public transit systems.

This point-of-sale method offers advantages beyond convenience. The pandemic made contactless payments a health and safety priority, and many people still prefer to pay this way. Apple Pay and other mobile payment services facilitate contactless payments.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay uses NFC technology to transmit payments. NFC allows two devices – in this case, the customer’s device with the Apple Pay app and the business’s card reader or terminal – to communicate wirelessly when in close proximity. Most contactless and mobile payment systems use a form of NFC.

As mentioned earlier, Apple Pay uses 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.

This process begins when a customer first sets up the Apple Pay app. They take a picture of their credit card, which Apple uses to contact the user’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. Then, when the shopper makes a purchase, the app uses the token, not their actual banking information, to process the payment, which prevents hackers from extracting their credit card details.

Drawbacks of Apple Pay

For all the ease of Apple Pay, you should know about potential drawbacks and limitations before proceeding:

  • Apple Pay is not a payment processor. You still must use your current credit card processor or sign up with one. Ask your credit card processor what you need to accept and process Apple Pay payments. If you don’t currently have a credit card processing solution, check out our Square review and our Helcim review to learn about two standout examples of credit card processors that can help you accept Apple Pay.
  • You must have NFC technology. 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 only supported by Apple devices. Android users must rely on other mobile payment solutions like Google Pay or Samsung Pay (for Samsung devices). If you set up your payment processor to support Apple Pay, consider setting up its Android equivalents to avoid alienating a portion of your client base. 
  • Customers may have a learning curve. New mobile payment users may take a little longer when first attempting to pay with Apple Pay. This should only be a temporary inconvenience as shoppers and staff learn how to use it. 
  • Potential card clashing. Apple Pay and other mobile payment solutions can lead to card clash scenarios. This occurs when a shopper tries to pay with Apple Pay but has another NFC-enabled card in a wallet on the phone. As a result, a shopper may accidentally pay twice, or the payment may not go through at all. 

Apple Pay FAQs

What are Apple Pay’s fees?

Aside from the cost of the processing terminal (if you’re required to upgrade the one you have or must purchase one for the first time), Apple Pay is free for consumers and businesses to use.

There is no additional cost for companies to accept Apple Pay. Instead, Apple charges credit card issuers 15 basis points, or 0.15 percent of an Apple Pay purchase, to guarantee that the tokenization is secure.

What hardware does Apple Pay require?

If your point-of-sale terminal already accepts contactless credit cards or Google Pay, you’re likely capable of accepting Apple Pay. But if you’re not yet accepting contactless payments, contact your payment processor and ask it to help you set up your point-of-sale terminal to enable Apple Pay. This may require a new card reader or could involve a simple software or firmware update.

Who are Apple Pay’s competitors? 

Two primary Apple Pay competitors are Samsung Pay and Google Pay, alternative mobile payment solutions created by Samsung and Google. These methods are intended for Android devices or Samsung devices, in the case of Samsung Pay. Modern payment terminals that are configured to accept contactless payments should already be set up to accept Samsung Pay and Google Pay. 

Other potential options include PayPal or Venmo. These payment applications allow shoppers to pay for contactless purchases in brick-and-mortar locations through their respective apps. However, Venmo and PayPal require an additional checkout system that scans QR codes

Did You Know?Did you know

PayPal’s mobile credit card reader, PayPal Zettle, offers a full suite of POS hardware and free POS software.

The impact of Apple Pay

According to Statista, 507 million people worldwide use Apple Pay, and that number is only expected to grow. Apple Pay is a modern, secure and efficient way to accept payments. While Apple Pay has some minor downsides, none are unique – they apply to mobile payment technologies in general. 

Your business has much to gain by accepting Apple Pay because it allows quick and frictionless payments. Customers spend more when the purchasing process is quick and convenient. Additionally, accepting Apple Pay shows customers that your business is modern and connected to the latest technology. 

Sally Herigstad contributed to this article. 

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Sean Peek, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
Sean Peek is the co-founder of a self-funded small business that employs more than a dozen team members. His years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience in bootstrapping, operations management, process automation and leadership have strengthened his knowledge of the B2B world and the most pressing issues facing business owners today. Peek uses his expertise to guide fellow small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, finance and software technology. Peek excels at developing customer bases and fostering long-term client relationships, using lean principles to drive efficiency and cost-saving, and identifying growth areas. He has demonstrated his business savvy through collaborations with Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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