How To Accept Apple Pay

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Customers love convenience, so offering modern payment methods like Apple Pay can set you apart. Apple Pay allows customers to make secure purchases using an Apple device like an iPhone or Apple Watch. It’s a contactless payment technology that’s growing rapidly in popularity across the UK. 

If you’re already equipped to take credit card payments, adding Apple Pay to your payment options is a logical next step. We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of accepting Apple Pay, whether in-person or via your website.

Get a Merchant Account for Apple Pay

To begin accepting Apple Pay in your business, you must sign up for a merchant account with a payment processor. The payment processor serves as an intermediary during card transactions, facilitating communications between the customer’s bank, the credit card network, and your bank.

The majority of established payment processors in the UK can handle Apple Pay transactions without additional charges beyond standard credit card processing fees. You can start by perusing Apple Pay’s list of recommended payment service providers. In the UK, these include:

  • Global Payments
  • Mastercard Payment Gateway Services
  • Stripe
  • Worldpay

For other payment processors, you can always ensure they support Apple Pay by checking their website or contacting the company directly.

From there, check our comparison of the best UK merchant accounts to find the one that suits your needs.

Set Up Your Merchant Account

If you’re setting up a new merchant account, you’ll typically need to:

  • Submit an application with your chosen payment processor.
  • Provide necessary business details, including bank information and trading history.
  • Once you’re approved, follow their setup guide to integrate Apple Pay into your payment system.

If you already have a merchant account:

  • Contact your provider’s customer support or visit the “Help” section of their website.
  • Look for the option to update payment methods or enable Apple Pay. Typically, this is just a matter of clicking a box and applying the change.

Buy an NFC-compatible Card Reader

For online sales, integrating Apple Pay is handled digitally through your payment gateway, so there’s no need for physical hardware. But for in-shop transactions, an NFC-enabled card machine is needed to accept Apple Pay. 

Ensuring your business can accept Apple Pay means having the right card machine – one embedded with near-field communication (NFC) technology. 

  • Check your existing card machine: If your card machine displays the contactless payment symbol, it typically means it can accept Apple Pay transactions.
  • Verify Apple Pay support: While most NFC-enabled card machines support Apple Pay, it makes sense to confirm this with your provider to ensure there are no compatibility issues.
  • Upgrade your hardware if required: Should your existing card machine not support NFC, purchasing a new one that is Apple Pay-compatible is necessary. Such card machines are widely accessible from payment service providers.

Set Up Your NFC-Enabled Card Machine

While every card machine is slightly different, the steps to set up your card machine will be simple.

  • Unbox and power on: Take your new card machine out of the box and connect it to a power source.
  • Connect to your network: Depending on your card machine model, you may connect it via Wi-Fi or directly using an Ethernet cable. Follow the on-screen prompts or the manual to join it to your network.
  • Integration with POS system: Link the card machine to your Point-Of-Sale (POS) system. This may require you to install additional software or pair the devices through a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.

3 Ways to Accept Apple Pay

Apple Pay offers versatility in payments, catering to various business environments and customer preferences. Let’s explore the different methods to accept Apple Pay you might want to use.

1. Via NFC-Enabled Card Machine

Accepting Apple Pay via an NFC-enabled card machine is straightforward and aligns with the contactless payment process familiar to many UK consumers. Here’s the typical in-store process:

  1. Ensure your card machine is powered on and NFC is enabled.
  2. Prompt the customer to hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near the card reader.
  3. Wait for the card machine to detect the device and process the payment.
  4. The customer authorises the payment using Face ID, Touch ID, or their passcode.
  5. A confirmation beep or vibration from the customer’s device signals a successful transaction.

2. Using an iPhone or iPad with Tap to Pay

Tap to Pay on iPhone is an excellent solution for businesses without NFC-enabled card readers. To use your iPhone as a contactless payment terminal, you will need an iPhone 11 or later model running iOS 15.5 or above. 

Here’s how to set it up using Square as an example:

  1. Install the Square Point of Sale app from the App Store.
  2. In the app, go to More > Settings > Account.
  3. Select ‘Enable Tap to Pay on iPhone’.
  4. Verify your Apple ID and agree to the terms to activate the feature.

Once enabled, other iPhones on the same account can also use Tap to Pay. 

When you’re ready to accept a payment, simply:

  1. Open the Square app, go to Checkout, and add items or enter the amount.
  2. Tap “Review Sale” then “Charge.”
  3. Choose “Tap to Pay on iPhone” and have the customer hold their card or device near your iPhone.

Accepting Apple Pay using your iPhone is a convenient option that allows you and your team members to take payments without needing additional hardware.

3. Accepting Apple Pay Online

To accept Apple Pay for online transactions, you need to integrate Apple Pay with your e-commerce platform:

  1. Verify that your website’s payment gateway supports Apple Pay – popular UK platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento offer this feature.
  2. Follow the platform’s specific setup process, which may include adding Apple Pay as a payment option and authenticating your business with Apple.
  3. Ensure your website is secure, running on HTTPS, and has an SSL certificate for customer trust.

During online checkout:

  1. Customers choose Apple Pay as their payment method.
  2. They authenticate via Touch ID, Face ID, or passcode on their Apple device.
  3. Payment is processed securely, and confirmation is displayed on your website and the customer’s device.

Benefits of Accepting Apple Pay

Accepting Apple Pay offers several important advantages:

  • Speed and convenience: Apple Pay transactions are swift, taking seconds to complete, which can enhance customer throughput and reduce queues in busy retail environments.
  • Security and trust: With advanced encryption and biometric authentication, Apple Pay is more secure than traditional card payments, reducing the risk of fraud. In the UK, contactless fraud equates to just 2 pence for every £100 spent.
  • Hygiene: Apple Pay eliminates the need to touch card machines, which can reassure hygiene-conscious customers.
  • Customer base growth: Apple Pay had a 51% share of the UK mobile wallet market in 2023, and this number is growing.
  • Tech-savvy image: Offering Apple Pay positions your business as modern and tech-forward, appealing to younger demographics who prefer using mobile payments.

Drawbacks of Accepting Apple Pay

There are a few small downsides to implementing Apple Pay, though.

  • Hardware costs: Upfront costs for NFC-enabled card machines can be high. To minimise this, consider leasing options or seeking a payment processor that offers discounted or free equipment upgrades.
  • Tech adoption: Some customers may be hesitant to use new technology. You can mitigate this by continuing to offer other payment options and educating staff to assist and reassure customers during transactions.
  • Connectivity dependency: Apple Pay requires an internet connection. Have a backup payment method for outages and ensure reliable network infrastructure in your establishment.
Next Steps

Now you know how to accept Apple Pay, you can offer customers a fast, secure, and hygienic payment method. Choose a payment processor that aligns with your business needs, set up the necessary card readers, and integrate Apple Pay into your payment system. 

Take the next step by promoting Apple Pay in your shop, educating your team to support its usage, and watch as your business becomes a preferred destination for tech-savvy shoppers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the transaction fees for Apple Pay?
The transaction fees for Apple Pay are the same as those for regular card transactions. The actual cost can vary depending on your payment processor but typically ranges from 1.5% to 2.9% per transaction.
Does accepting Apple Pay require special hardware?
To accept Apple Pay in person, you’ll need an NFC-enabled card reader or a compatible iPhone with the ‘Tap to Pay on iPhone’ feature enabled.
How can I promote the use of Apple Pay to customers?
Promote Apple Pay by using decals or signage in your store, updating your online checkout to show Apple Pay as an option, and training staff to suggest Apple Pay as a secure and convenient payment method to customers.
Written by:
Richard has more than 20 years of experience in business operations, computer science and full-stack development roles. A graduate in Computer Science and former IT support manager at Samsung, Richard has taught coding courses and developed software for both private businesses and state organisations. A prolific author in B2B and B2C tech, Richard’s work has been published on sites such as TechRadar Pro, ITProPortal and Tom’s Guide.