How secure is Apple Pay?

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Apple Pay launches today in the UK (14/07/2015) and looks like it’s really going to set the standard for digital wallets in the future. Mark James talks us through how secure it is and whether or not he’d use it.


Those familiar with contactless payment will likely be aware of Apply Pay and perhaps other upcoming digital wallets, such as Android’s offering Google Wallet.

Contactless payment cards have been on the scene for a while now and are an extremely convenient way to make small payments quickly (£20 cap, but rising to £30 in September).

Apple Pay aims to take that convenience to the next level and do away with those pesky bank or credit cards by putting them all on your phone and using your iDevices in-built NFC (near field communication) chip as the “contactless” element.


“Additional security measures…”


“Apple have taken the security of Apple Pay very seriously,” explains Mark James, IT security specialist at ESET UK.

“They have implemented additional security measures with the banks involved to help protect your sensitive data and your credit card number is never stored on your device.”

Apple have been working very closely with those banks indeed. As of release the supported banks are Ulster Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, First Direct and the Royal Bank of Scotland, with HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and TSB all coming ‘soon’.

Card providers Visa, MasterCard and American Express are also throwing their lot in with the tech giant – it’s extremely reassuring that everyone is working together.

Putting your cards on your device is all well and good but how safe will they be?

“Your details are tagged to a unique device account number that is stored in the ‘Secure Element’, a chip dedicated for this use in your iPhone iPad or iWatch.”


Contactless vs. Apple Pay


Mark also explains that Apple Pay could be more secure than existing contactless payment methods.

“Technically yes, the iPhone requires you to touch your fingerprint reader, thus checking to make sure you are the registered user and unlike contactless not just anyone holding the card.

“Contactless payments have many forms of protection in place and will periodically ask you to enter your pin number to verify you’re the correct holder of the card but having it on your phone has many advantages including not having to show or hand over your CC to anyone else.”

Even if your iDevice is lost or stolen you still have an out: using the same software which controls your iDevice’s ‘kill switch’ you can disable or remove cards. Good job Apple!


”A step closer…”


We are probably a fair way-a-way from a completely card-or-wallet-less existence – notably, what do you do when you need cash from an ATM? – but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

As Mark puts it: “Apple have a great history of getting things right and they won’t have ventured into this field without taking every possible security measure they can.

Digital wallets are the way forward, having to carry (and possibly lose) credit cards in your wallet should be a thing of the past.