Counting the cost of paying in the digital age
It promises the ease of contactless payment along with beefed-up fingerprint security, but can Apple Pay, the technology giant's new 'digital wallet', really rival your bank, credit and debit cards? Katie Wright finds out.
With that little contactless payment icon now ubiquitous in shops, bars and eateries all over the UK, cash is on the way to becoming obsolete, and our flexible friends could be too with the arrival of Apple Pay.
The so-called digital wallet launched in the US last October, and now it's available here, allowing iPhone 6, 6 Plus or Apple Watch owners to make payments of up to £20 a time.
How does it work? The system uses the Passbook app to store credit and debit card details and can be used anywhere contactless transactions are allowed. To make a payment, users hold their device up to the cashier's card reader while pressing the Touch ID fingerprint scanner button. A quick buzz indicates the dosh has been delivered.
With the Apple Watch, a double click on the side and swipe over the card reader does the same.
So far, banks including NatWest, Nationwide, RBS and Santander have signed up, with HSBC, Halifax and Lloyds due to join later this year.
Apple Pay also promises to make online shopping easier on the iPad, allowing speedy checkout with compatible apps and sites by just popping your fingertip on the Touch ID.
Apple claims the app-based method is more secure because it generates a temporary encrypted code for each transaction.
You don't have to reveal your card details or name like you normally do in shops or online, lessening the risk of fraud.
But what if you lose your watch or your iPad gets pinched? Provided you realise before a thief has gone on a sub-£20-a-time spending spree, you can use the Find My iPhone tool to put it in Lost Mode, effectively locking your digital wallet.
Certainly, the tap-and-go technique is more appealing than having to enter that irritatingly long 16-digit number but, as with all Apple products, it only works with its own family of gadgets, whereas the almost identical Android Pay works with more phones (although the latter isn't available here yet).
Since the decline of the PIN-enabled payment, I've stopped carrying my hefty, junk-filled wallet around and have downsized to a coin purse and cardholder, so one less thing to carry around sounds great - for current iPhone 6 or Apple Watch owners it's a no-brainer.
But, as of now I'm not willing to deplete the contents of my real wallet to enable the switch just yet.