26 April 2021

    Nafisa Akabor

    5 great Apple Pay features

    Apple Pay launched in South Africa at the end of March, more than six years after its US release.

    Mobile payment system Apple Pay launched in South Africa at the end of March, more than six years after its US release.

    Apple Pay turns an iPhone and Apple Watch into a virtual contactless card to make payments at any terminal that supports existing contactless cards. Apple Pay also works for online checkout through Safari and iOS apps.

    Apple devices have had near-field communication (NFC) chips embedded in them for years, but the company limited its use to Apple Pay, which is why it couldn’t be used with third-party banking apps, in the same way, Tap to Pay works on Android.


    The Wallet app on iPhone enables you to add a supporting debit or credit bank onto Apple Pay – currently available for three South African banks: Absa, Discovery Bank and Nedbank.

    Your bank card is loaded within seconds and ready to use at any contactless payment terminal. It can be identified by the symbol that looks like Wi-Fi, which also appears on most bank cards today. You simply hold your iPhone or Apple Watch close to the point-of-sale (POS) device to make payment; it does not need to physically touch it.

    Private and secure

    Apple Pay is safe because it doesn’t use your actual card number. When you load a card onto Apple Pay, it generates and assigns a random tokenised number for each device. Merchants never have your details, and thus they don’t get stored on Apple’s servers.

    Apple Pay is designed to offer privacy when you use your cards with it, as transactions can’t be linked back to you. It’s also secure and works with Face ID or Touch ID. Should anything happen to your device, your code or biometrics would be needed first.

    Pay on Safari and iOS apps

    If you see the Apple Pay logo on websites via Safari at checkout or via iOS apps to make in-app purchases, you can pay directly without having to enter credit card details or fill in lengthy forms. It’s also secured by Touch ID on the Macbook Air and Pro. Your cards need to be loaded onto your Mac/iPad first before using checkout services.

    In South Africa, Peach Payments for e-commerce sites accept Apple Pay. Retail sites include Zando, Netflorist, Bottles, Dineplan, Pick n Pay, Aldo, Ucook, Quicket and Cash Crusaders.

    Healthier option

    Use of mobile, contactless payments has risen as a safer option during the pandemic. Absa says Apple Pay helps customers avoid physical contact in handing over a card, touching buttons or exchanging cash. Merchants are also increasingly switching to cashless-only environments.

    Easy card-loading

    Apple Pay sits in the Wallet app and it works by device only. The cards you load on an iPhone won’t work on your iPad and would need to be loaded separately. In contrast, you can load up to 12 cards onto Apple Pay on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and Apple Watch Series 3 upwards. Older models are limited to eight cards.

    Nafisa Akabor