Apple’s Tap to Pay feature lets newer iPhones accept contactless payments

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Apple just announced plans to roll out Tap to Pay on iPhone, allowing businesses to use mobile devices as a payment terminal for contactless payments. A Bloomberg report from 2020 noted Apple’s acquisition of a startup, Mobeewave, focused on building this technology, and a rumor from the same outlet in January revealed it was getting close to a rollout. Now, Apple has confirmed the feature, which will take payments from “contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets.”

Tap to Pay on iPhone isn’t ready for you to use today but the supporting API has arrived today in the iOS 15.4 beta 2, potentially enabling the feature on iPhone XS and later models. There are older iPhones with NFC, but at least for now, the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 models are not on the compatible list. Apple says that just like Apple Pay, it does not know what is being purchased or who is buying it.

In the US at least, touchless payments haven’t taken over yet, but this could be a nudge in that direction. Apple confirmed to The Verge that it will support all EMV contactless payments, including Google Pay, so as more options become available, the familiar Square card reader dongles could start to disappear.

Apple Tap to Pay on iPhone

Apple Tap to Pay on iPhone
Image: Apple

According to Apple, all merchants will need to use their phones as payment acceptance systems to work with a compatible payment processor. Stripe will be first up, and it plans to support the feature in its Shopify point of sale app “this spring,” followed by other platforms and apps later this year. Apple Stores in the US will also have the feature enabled later this year.

Apple vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet Jennifer Bailey said in a statement announcing the feature, “Tap to Pay on iPhone will provide businesses with a secure, private, and easy way to accept contactless payments and unlock new checkout experiences using the power, security, and convenience of iPhone.”

Update February 8th, 5PM ET: Noted the API is currently available in the latest version of the iOS 15.4 beta.

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