HSBC misses Apple Pay UK launch

By Brian Milligan
Personal Finance reporter

image copyrightGetty Images

HSBC has said its customers will not be able to use the new Apple Pay system as it launches on Tuesday in the UK.

The bank had been expected to be amongst the first to offer the system, which allows some iPhone users to pay by touching their phone or watch on contact pads.

Instead, HSBC said it was planning to launch the service by the end of July.

Barclays - which has its own payment system - said it would be offering Apple Pay "in the future".

Five other banks - Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds, TSB and Marks and Spencer - will launch in the autumn.

HSBC denied that its decision not to participate at launch was last minute, saying that it had not planned to take part.

However, the bank was listed on the Apple website as a "participating bank" as late as Monday.

By Tuesday, it was listed as "coming soon".

An HSBC spokesperson told the BBC: "We are working hard to bring this to our customers by the end of July."

Customers of First Direct - an HSBC subsidiary - will also have to wait.

£20 limit

The Apple Pay system enables owners of iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus and Apple watches to pay for goods and services by touching their device on a contactless payment pad.

Their identity is verified through their fingerprint. The system can also be used to make online purchases.

In most cases, payments are limited to £20, as with existing contactless debit cards. However this limit will be raised to £30 in September.

Some retailers offer a higher payment amount.

The following banks are offering Apple Pay from Tuesday:

  • NatWest
  • Nationwide
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Ulster Bank
  • Santander
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Read more about how Apple Pay works, and how secure the system is.

Some experts are sceptical about Apple's ability to dominate the phone-pay market.

Jens Bader, chief commercial officer of Secure Trading, which operates payment systems, said many people would stick to using contactless debit or credit cards.

"I think it is definitely premature to say that Apple Pay will be the death of cash and cards," he said.

There are several rival systems.

Barclays launched its pay-by-wristband service last month. Customers can also use a key fob, or a sticker that can be attached to a mobile phone.

A system called Android Pay - for Samsung owners - is due to launch in the autumn.

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