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Retailers' first bite at Apple Pay

Last week, Apple attempted to put the final nail in the coffin of cash and plastic cards with the launch of its contactless payment service, Apple Pay. But does the US tech titan, or any other contender, have the clout to create a seismic shift from plastic to digital?

Visa Europe predicts that daily usage of mobile payments will triple and the amount spent will increase to more than £1.2bn a week by 2020. However, whether this latest payment innovation will bear fruit in store is a hot topic among retailers.

Drapers spoke to five of the high street names offering the technology two weeks after its launch to find out their views.

Christian Drehkopf head of mobile apps at Zalando

Christian Drehkopf, head of mobile apps at Zalando

Christian Drehkopf, head of mobile apps at Zalando

“With Apple Pay, customers don’t need to type in their credit or debit card details any more when shopping mobile. All data needed to make a purchase is saved on their iPhone or iPad and transferred via fingerprint identification. Therefore, we are excited to see how it develops and if the service will set the standard for future mobile payment. The convenience brought by Apple Pay can not only improve but even revolutionise the online shopping user experience. That’s why we were striving to launch Apple Pay on our site as soon as it would be available in the European Region.

“Although a number of different Zalando teams (from ordering to fulfilment centre and fashion store apps) had to be involved in implementation, it took us a record time of only three weeks to launch the new payment option. This is a proof point for the convenience that Apple Pay offers to us as a service provider. Our customers in the UK are already using Apple Pay in the Zalando app.”

Jake Sorkin, Percival

Jake Sorkin, Percival

Jake Sorkin, owner of independent menswear store Percival in Soho, London

“We’re offering Apple Pay through iZettle, which has been our payment provider of chip-and-pin for the last 18 months. When the opportunity came up to have Apple Pay through them, we thought anything that allows a small company like us to have an advantage over other similar stores and compete with the big guys offering it is good. Before this, we didn’t have contactless readers so it’s a big leap. In terms of the image it offers an independent, it makes us look quite cutting-edge because Apple is a cool brand that fits with our demographic. The fact that we’re offering it from the launch gives our consumers confidence that we’re keeping up with the market.”

Paul Airey at Marks and Spencer

Paul Airey at Marks and Spencer

Paul Airey, head of technology for retail and digital stores at Marks & Spencer

“M&S was one of the first retailers to introduce contactless payment to stores and customers have embraced this technology. We now process around 100,000 contactless transactions every day. The integration of Apple Pay is a natural next step, ensuring that we’re well set up for developments in wearable tech and mobile payment. Over the last two years, we have built the relevant in-house specialist development teams to ensure that we are ready to respond to emerging trends and innovations – with the capabilities and skills to test them efficiently and effectively – so we can offer our customers a quicker, easier and more convenient shopping experience.

“We’ve been monitoring feedback, both on our internal social network Yammer and external social networks, and have seen very positive reviews of the user experience from both employees and customers.”

Lynne Beattie IT director at Dune

Lynn Beattie, IT director at Dune

Lynn Beattie, IT director at Dune: “Apple Pay is much more convenient and secure than card transactions. We already have most of the IT infrastructure in place for Apple Pay and our staff in stores are very enthusiastic about adopting the new technology, but it has not yet been set live as at the moment the £20 limit is a bit of a barrier as our average transaction value is a lot higher. Once high value contactless is introduced [in September], we will set it live and we expect the number of customers using digital wallets in our stores to grow quickly.”

Simon Pritchard, group digital director at Arcadia (using Apple Pay via its apps)

“Removing the hassle of filling out forms and payment details is a particular priority for us on mobile. Apple Pay goes a long way towards our goal of creating a frictionless checkout for our apps, and we’re delighted to have had the support of [retail technology firm] Red Ant in bringing this innovation to market so quickly.”

Jonathan Samols, IT director at Liberty

Jonathan Samols, IT director at Liberty

Jonathan Samols, IT director at Liberty

“We are accepting Apple Pay in store for the standard contactless value of up to £20 and we want to extend this to higher-value transactions later in the year. Apple Pay fits in well with our wider payment strategy of wanting to provide secure and convenient payment options for our customers. We already know a large proportion of our customers use iOS devices and many of them will have the latest models. Apple is great at making its applications intuitive; it has a wide range of retailers signed up to use Apple Pay and we believe the Liberty customer will be keen to use it.”

Drapers verdict: Apple Pay alternative, bPay

Barclaycard has been trying to pip Apple to the payable post for some time and, thanks to Apple Pay’s delays with some of the UK’s biggest banks, it has largely succeeded. 

Last year, it began trialling a pair of gloves embedded with a chip allowing wearers to complete transactions by swiping their hands over card machines.


bPay wristband

Now it has come up with three new alternatives under its bBay by Barclaycard umbrella: a wristband, a fob and a sticker. Each device uses contactless payment technology and a secure digital wallet, to which funds can be added online via an app or set to auto top-up.

The three products went on sale online from July 1 and are available to any shopper with a UK-registered Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card.

·         The bPay wristband (£24.99) is fairly chunky and unattractive but could prove useful on a mammoth shopping trip to avoid a shopper having to get their wallet or purse out at every till.

·         The bPay fob (£19.99) can be attached to a key ring but it’s hard to see how getting keys out of a bag is any easier than using a contactless card.

·         The bPay sticker (£14.99) appeared the most promising because it has the ability to turn anything, including a non-Apple phone, into a contactless way to pay. However, because it uses a strong adhesive, few will want to stick the device to an expensive smartphone.

Other rivals, including Google’s Android Pay and Samsung Pay, are also under development and are expected to be launched in the US later this year.

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