Apple Pay, the contactless payment solution built into the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, is scheduled to launch in the UK tomorrow.
The system allows users to simply tap their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch on contactless payment points to complete transactions, using the same near-field communication technology found in contactless debit and credit cards.
Apple is still yet to officially confirm the date of the launch, but leaked memos from at least one UK supermarket made reference to Tuesday's date - July 14 - and a tweet from the HSBC UK Twitter account on Sunday confirmed the date in response to a question, before the tweet was swiftly deleted.
The technology is already available in the US, but the UK launch will mark the first time it has been made available outside the States. It does not require Apple-specific contactless payment terminals and when it is launched more than 250,000 locations will accept payments.
Privacy and security have been highlighted by Apple as key elements of the new technology and the Californian company's solution introduces two-factor authentication to contactless payments by requiring users to keep a finger on the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in order to authorise a payment.
The iPhone maker says that customer payment information will be kept private, as when a credit or debit card is added to their account by the user, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple's servers. Instead, each transaction is completed with a "one-time unique, dynamic security code". Users can also remotely cancel the service on a lost phone using Apple’s Find My iPhone service.
A host of major UK brands and banks have signed up to support Apple Pay at launch, including Boots, Waitrose and the Post Office, with the same spending limit of £20 in place for single contactless transactions. This is expected to increase to £30 in September.
Owners of an Apple Watch synced to an iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s will also be able to use Apple Pay, albeit without the extra security of Touch ID available only on the latest iPhone 6/6S model. Those with the latest iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 will also be able to use Apple Pay within apps to make purchases online.
Rival Google is set to launch its own mobile payment solution, Android Pay, later this year, while Barclaycard has already launched the bPay system, where users can choose between either a wristband, key fob or intelligent sticker for their phone that contains contactless technology and can be linked with any bank account and card.
Contactless payment continues to grow rapidly in popularity, with more than £2bn spent via the system in 2014, according to the UK Cards Association.
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