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How to Use Apple Pay: How It Works & How to Set It Up

Julie Holkeboer | January 6, 2023 |

How to Use Apple Pay: How It Works & How to Set It Up


Smartphones have evolved from mere communication devices to becoming  the center of our modern lives. And now, using your mobile device has become one of the most popular ways to pay for everyday purchases. With millions of users in the U.S. alone, Apple is helping to lead the contactless payment revolution with its platform, Apple Pay.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to pay with Apple Pay, the benefits for your business and customers, and how to set up Apple Pay for your business.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is the mobile wallet and payment system for various Apple iOS devices like iPhone and Apple Watch. In a nutshell, it allows you to make payments using your iPhone at select establishments without the need to take out your wallet or credit card.

Here’s how Apple Pay works—it’s very much like a digital extension of your wallet. It’s made up of two components.

  1. The first is the Apple Wallet. You may ask, how do you use an Apple Wallet? The Apple Wallet is a digital repository that stores all of your credit cards. Whenever you use it, it pulls stored credit card information to make cardless transactions online or at Apple Pay-enabled contactless payment terminals. 
  2. The second component is Apple Pay Cash, a peer-to-peer service that allows you to send and receive money, similar to PayPal. You can use it, for example, to pay your roommate for your share of the rent. 

Apple Pay was introduced back in 2015, first seen in the iPhone 6. All iOS devices released after this software version can support Apple Pay and mobile payments. This includes the Apple Watches and iPads as well. 

Where Can Apple Pay Be Used?

Compared to competing mobile wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay has become one of the more mainstream mobile payment systems available. Apple Pay is accepted at over 85 percent of retailers in the U.S. Most large retailers like Whole Foods and Walgreens all allow customers to use Apple Pay at checkout. 

If you are wondering who accepts Apple Pay, Apple has support tools on their website to help you identify which retailers support Apple Pay. You can also use Apple Maps to scan for the stores in your area that accept Apple Pay.

Businesses that support Apple Pay will usually have an NFC-enabled terminal. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and it refers to the technology behind contactless payments. All you need is to tap your iPhone near the NFC reader when it lights up. It takes seconds for the payment information to get transmitted and then the iPhone payment is completed.

Of course, you can also use Apple Pay to make purchases online. Most apps in the App Store will have Apple Pay enabled. It takes the unnecessary step of entering your credit card information out of the equation. All you need to do is conduct a scan using Touch or Face ID (if you have it enabled) to make secure online purchases. The Apple Pay app works across all your devices, including Macbooks and iMacs.

How to Set Up Apple Pay on Your Apple Device

Here’s how to use Apple Pay via your iOS device:

  • First, you need to enable it. The process will be similar across devices, thanks to the uniformity of iOS. Make sure you have the latest version of iOS installed on your device. You also need to be signed in using your Apple ID.
  • Next, open the Wallet app and tap the "+" sign in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This allows you to add your credit card information. You can then enter your data manually, or simply scan it using the phone’s camera.
  • Your bank will probably require extra steps to authorize your card with Apple Pay. Simply follow any texts or emails you may receive. Once enabled, you’re now free to use that card with Apple Pay.

We recommend reviewing your Wallet settings (Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay). This allows you to set which your default card is if you have multiple ones registered.

Is Apple Pay Secure?

In addition to being very straightforward to use, Apple Pay has a host of technologies in the background that make it very secure and safe. In fact, it’s much more secure than using your physical card itself.

Traditionally, credit cards use a magnetic stripe to store sensitive data like your card number. The problem is that this data is completely vulnerable. Once hackers read this magnetic stripe, they’ll be able to get your card number and use your card.

Apple Pay stores your credit card information in a different way. Whenever you enter your credit card, debit card, or bank information on your iPhone, Apple Pay app doesn’t store it in your device itself. Instead, it uses a device account number, which is an encrypted code that corresponds to your card details.

When you use Apple Pay to pay for an item or service, your iPhone payments don’t share any of your bank details with that merchant. Instead, the app uses the encrypted code. This number, by itself, is randomly generated and means nothing to hackers and bad actors. So, should thieves intercept or hack this code in any way, they won’t be able to use it.

What’s more, every iOS device with Apple Pay requires the use of Touch or Face ID. This is a security system that utilizes your fingerprint scan or facial recognition to authorize your device to make payments. This is very secure since your prints are unique to you and nearly impossible to replicate. It also ensures that every transaction through Apple Pay is authorized by you, and no one else.

Finally, NFC technology enables Apple Pay to be a contactless method of payment. You don’t need to physically swipe your card or insert an EMV chip into the machine, which is vulnerable to card skimming scams. It's safe, and transactions take seconds to process.

Apple Pay Advantages

Using Apple Pay gives you plenty of benefits over traditional credit cards or even the newer EMV chips. Here are a few good reasons:

It’s fast

Compared to EMV and credit cards, Apple Pay takes seconds to process. Making swipes using a traditional card can be very slow, and requires making contact with the server and verifying transactions. EMV is a drastic improvement but is nowhere near as fast as the NFC technology behind Apple Pay.

It’s safe

As we’ve discussed in the previous section, Apple Pay is one of the most secure mobile payments available today. There are similar mobile pay apps to Apple Pay’s app out there, such as Samsung Pay and Google Pay, but Apple Pay capitalizes on the already robust security features of iOS devices to make it even better.

It’s convenient

Using Apple Pay is certainly more convenient than getting your wallet, fumbling over the right card, and handing it over to the cashier. Chances are that you already have your smartphone with you at all times, so making payments is effortless on your part. 

What’s more, Apple Pay is already built-in to your iPhone, so there’s no need to buy any additional equipment or subscribe to a service.

It's great for traveling

When you travel to a country that supports contactless payments, this payment method will be very convenient for you. You don’t need to deal with exchange rates or going to the country’s local bank. You can pay directly with Apple Pay just as you would in your home country. Apple Pay is widely supported, so there’s a good chance your destination country will allow you to use it in many of their establishments.

How to Use Apple Pay For Your Business

Innovative platforms like Revel Systems allow seamless integration with Apple Pay when paired with a payment provider that accepts Apple Pay. It allows your customers to send payment data from their iPhone directly to the Revel POS platform using NFC technology.

Still wondering how to use Apple Pay for your business? Contact us today, and we'll guide you through how our innovative cloud POS system gives your customers the freedom to choose their preferred payment method. Schedule your free demo today.