Apple Pay finally arrives in Ireland

7 Mar 2017

Image: Bloomicon/Shutterstock

New service lets iPhone and Apple Watch owners turn their device into their personal wallet.

Apple Pay is finally arriving in Ireland and iPhone owners will be able to make Visa and MasterCard purchases at thousands of retail locations around Ireland, just as they would with their contactless cards.

The launch of Apple Pay in Ireland has been three years in the making since it was first revealed at Apple’s iPhone event in September 2014. In that time, the service has launched in the larger markets such as the US, the UK and various other countries around the world.

However, despite waiting all this time, its arrival is something of an anticlimax.

You see, while thousands of retailers across Ireland will accept payments from iPhones as of today, just two participating banks will be ready at launch: KBC Bank and Ulster Bank.

Apple Pay can be used anywhere that contactless payments are accepted, including retailers such as Lidl, Aldi, Boots, SuperValu, Centra, An Post, Burger King, Compu b, Dunnes Stores, Harvey Norman, Elverys, Applegreen and Marks and Spencer, to name a few.

Similar to the Android Pay service launched before Christmas, Apple Pay is relatively easy to set up on an iPhone, and for Apple Watch, through the Watch app on the iPhone.

The payment service works on iPhone 6 (and later models), iPhone SE, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 (and later) and an Apple Watch paired to an iPhone 5 (or later).

Once set up, each transaction is validated either through Touch ID or a passcode at the terminal.

Online shopping in apps and on websites accepting Apple Pay is as simple as the touch of a finger, so there’s no need to manually fill out lengthy account forms or repeatedly type in shipping and billing information.

Could Apple Pay be a game-changer?

MasterCard said that it is working with KBC Bank, Ulster Bank and Boon (Wirecard) to enable customers to use their MasterCard credit, debit or prepaid cards with Apple Pay from today.

Security is a key aspect of Apple Pay.

When you use a credit or debit card with this service, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique device account number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device. Each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Card issuers and platforms have built the gateways that secure transactions using services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.

For example, MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) is a secure payment system that has been built with ‘EMV-like cryptography’ to enable its cardholders to use Apple Pay, and ensure that transactions can take full advantage of the most advanced payment security in the world.

“For consumers and retailers alike, that means that every purchase made with a MasterCard using Apple Pay will offer the security, benefits and guarantees of any MasterCard transaction,” said Jason Lalor, country head of MasterCard Ireland.

“MasterCard was first in the world to offer contactless and mobile payment solutions to consumers and in 2016, Irish consumers stepped up their adoption of such payments, increasing their contactless transactions over fivefold with MasterCard.”

Eddie Dillon, director of innovation at KBC Bank Ireland, said that current account and credit card holders with an Apple iPhone SE, iPhone 6 (and later) and Apple Watch will be able to use Apple Pay everywhere that contactless payments are accepted.

“This development enhances our €100m multi-year investment plan in digital channels, banking systems and physical presence in Ireland,” said Dillon.

Ulster Bank’s director of customer experience and products, Maeve McMahon, said: “Customer-centric innovation is really important to Ulster Bank, and Apple Pay will make mobile payments even easier for our customers.

“We know from talking to them that they’re really excited about this announcement and that it’s an important part of our drive to be the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years