Why ApplePay Isn’t a Big Deal in Europe

Aside from hardware in yesterday’s Apple announcement, the big new feature was ApplePay. Using NFC (near field communication), you can pay with your credit or debit card using your iPhone. The main advantages to this are security and quicker payments, but Europe uses chip-and-PIN cards, rather than swipe cards, so security is much better; levels of card fraud are substantially lower over here. Sure, it’ll be a bit quicker to pay with ApplePay, but contactless cards exist here, which smooth the process. (I have to admit, I have a contactless card, and have never used it; I think I’ve only seen one merchant who had a contactless terminal in the year and a half that I’ve lived in the UK.)

Yes, ApplePay is nifty technology, but many of its advantages won’t make a difference here. For example, one is always at risk, in the US, of having a card copied when giving it to someone to be swiped. Here in Europe, no one swipes your card; you insert it yourself into a card reader, then enter a PIN. If you’re at a restaurant, the waiter brings a portable reader to your table. So your card never leaves your sight.

There are some advantages to online purchases with ApplePay, but, again, most cards over here use some form of two-factor authentication when purchasing online.

ApplePay is a big deal for people in the US, which is decades behind Europe as far as card payments are concerned, but it may take a while for it to be used in Europe. There’s little incentive to banks or merchants here to adopt such a system. We’ll have to see how this pans out.

Update: Here’s a New York Times article, Apple Pay Tries to Solve a Problem That Really Isn’t a Problem, that says a lot of what I do above, and goes into a bit more detail about whether or not this is a problem even in the US.

36 thoughts on “Why ApplePay Isn’t a Big Deal in Europe

  1. “Here in Europe, no one swipes your card; you insert it yourself into a card reader, then enter a PIN. ”

    No one, yes.
    Nothing, no. e.g: Highway tolls, some vending machines. No PIN required.

  2. “Here in Europe, no one swipes your card; you insert it yourself into a card reader, then enter a PIN. ”

    No one, yes.
    Nothing, no. e.g: Highway tolls, some vending machines. No PIN required.

  3. In Canada they never take your credit card either. They bring the terminal to you. In the US we’re just starting to get replacement credit cards with chips in them, but no PIN. Some merchants in Toronto were surprised I had no PIN so maybe they use them there. The chip did allow me to pay at the pump for gas. For years I had to go inside and sign a receipt because it was a US card.

  4. In Canada they never take your credit card either. They bring the terminal to you. In the US we’re just starting to get replacement credit cards with chips in them, but no PIN. Some merchants in Toronto were surprised I had no PIN so maybe they use them there. The chip did allow me to pay at the pump for gas. For years I had to go inside and sign a receipt because it was a US card.

  5. Oh I used to have a small “Paypass” card. It had doublestick tape & I put it in my iPhone case. The Paypass logo is the “wifi” type logo of 4-5 curved lines. The terminals they showed at the demo had those logos and the merchants they mentioned, like Mcdonalds, have had Paypass terminals for 2-3 years. It’s very rare to see those terminals here.

  6. Oh I used to have a small “Paypass” card. It had doublestick tape & I put it in my iPhone case. The Paypass logo is the “wifi” type logo of 4-5 curved lines. The terminals they showed at the demo had those logos and the merchants they mentioned, like Mcdonalds, have had Paypass terminals for 2-3 years. It’s very rare to see those terminals here.

  7. I use a contactless card. Apple Pay looks like a big improvement. The main reason is the £20 limit that my contactless card imposes. It means that a lot of the time I’m still having to take out my wallet, remove my card, wait for the machine to be ready, insert the card, wait for the machine to ask for my PIN, check no-one is looking over my shoulder, punch in my PIN, wait for the machine to finish the transaction, remove my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet away. Apple Pay will make things much easier and quicker, not to mention more secure because my card details never need to be seen or transmitted at any point. The biggest problem with contactless is that currently there are very few places that support it. I’m hoping Apple Pay will drive a lot more retailers to get on board, because I’m so tired of chip & PIN.

  8. I use a contactless card. Apple Pay looks like a big improvement. The main reason is the £20 limit that my contactless card imposes. It means that a lot of the time I’m still having to take out my wallet, remove my card, wait for the machine to be ready, insert the card, wait for the machine to ask for my PIN, check no-one is looking over my shoulder, punch in my PIN, wait for the machine to finish the transaction, remove my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet away. Apple Pay will make things much easier and quicker, not to mention more secure because my card details never need to be seen or transmitted at any point. The biggest problem with contactless is that currently there are very few places that support it. I’m hoping Apple Pay will drive a lot more retailers to get on board, because I’m so tired of chip & PIN.

  9. In Switzerland we can use contactless debit and credit cards at a lot of shops e.g. the 2 main supermarket chains. I have a debit on one side of my wallet and a credit card on the other. Choose which one to use and wave if slowly over the terminal. Transactions of about GBP 10 or less don’t require a pin. If it’s more you don’t need to insert the card in the terminal, but you will be asked to confirm the pin.

    Contactless payments have their own potential security issues; there are a growing number of wallets that claim to shield your cards from various radios, but not giving the merchant your card details would be quite attractive to consumers and merchants alike. It’s possible that with Apple Pay in place the impact of the Adobe, Target, Home Depot et al. security breaches may ultimately have been less serious.

    Despite having a well developed payments system in Switzerland, I hope the merchants and banks implement Apple Pay. It has the potential to not only be easier, but safer. It may even challenge the many businesses that still charge the consumer between 1-3% for using a credit card in the first place!

  10. In Switzerland we can use contactless debit and credit cards at a lot of shops e.g. the 2 main supermarket chains. I have a debit on one side of my wallet and a credit card on the other. Choose which one to use and wave if slowly over the terminal. Transactions of about GBP 10 or less don’t require a pin. If it’s more you don’t need to insert the card in the terminal, but you will be asked to confirm the pin.

    Contactless payments have their own potential security issues; there are a growing number of wallets that claim to shield your cards from various radios, but not giving the merchant your card details would be quite attractive to consumers and merchants alike. It’s possible that with Apple Pay in place the impact of the Adobe, Target, Home Depot et al. security breaches may ultimately have been less serious.

    Despite having a well developed payments system in Switzerland, I hope the merchants and banks implement Apple Pay. It has the potential to not only be easier, but safer. It may even challenge the many businesses that still charge the consumer between 1-3% for using a credit card in the first place!

    • Yea, in ATMs. That’s the only place where you lose sight of your card. Maybe in train ticket machines too…

      • Anywhere you insert a credit card is where you ‘lose sight’ of a card to a skimmer/camera combo.

        This is a matter of security (tokenization means your card info isn’t part of the transaction, and Apple has no idea what you’ve bought either) *plus* convenience. Apple’s not making any real money off this, but it upsets the transaction market to the extent that there are no specific advantages inherent to PayPal, AmazonPay, GoogleWallet etc compared to Visa/Mastercard/AmEx unless they offer better deals to consumers or merchants. Ease of use plus security are simply more/better reasons to use an iPhone/@watch.

    • Yea, in ATMs. That’s the only place where you lose sight of your card. Maybe in train ticket machines too…

      • Anywhere you insert a credit card is where you ‘lose sight’ of a card to a skimmer/camera combo.

        This is a matter of security (tokenization means your card info isn’t part of the transaction, and Apple has no idea what you’ve bought either) *plus* convenience. Apple’s not making any real money off this, but it upsets the transaction market to the extent that there are no specific advantages inherent to PayPal, AmazonPay, GoogleWallet etc compared to Visa/Mastercard/AmEx unless they offer better deals to consumers or merchants. Ease of use plus security are simply more/better reasons to use an iPhone/@watch.

  11. “The main advantages to this are security and quicker payments”
    “Sure, it’ll be a bit quicker to pay with ApplePay…”
    “Yes, ApplePay is nifty technology,…”
    “There are some advantages to online purchases with ApplePay:”

    Funny how you have to keep admitting that the Apple Pay is better, but then keep twisting yourself in knots to prove it won’t work in Europe. Similar to the arguments against the iPhone succeeding in Japan.

    Also, you didn’t mention the most important feature in my mind–the merchant only gets your money, they don’t get your credit card number, address or any other personal information. That is a HUGE deal that every consumer should want.

    You can bet Google and Amazon aren’t too happy about that feature.

    • I’ve had a lot of credit card fraud issues. They were all “inside jobs” that none of these technologies will address. I’d get a new card, set a new password, and within a month someone would call the credit card company with that password, change my home address, and make a cash advance transfer to a bank (around $2,000 each time). After two years of repeatedly getting new cards I just closed the account.

  12. “The main advantages to this are security and quicker payments”
    “Sure, it’ll be a bit quicker to pay with ApplePay…”
    “Yes, ApplePay is nifty technology,…”
    “There are some advantages to online purchases with ApplePay:”

    Funny how you have to keep admitting that the Apple Pay is better, but then keep twisting yourself in knots to prove it won’t work in Europe. Similar to the arguments against the iPhone succeeding in Japan.

    Also, you didn’t mention the most important feature in my mind–the merchant only gets your money, they don’t get your credit card number, address or any other personal information. That is a HUGE deal that every consumer should want.

    You can bet Google and Amazon aren’t too happy about that feature.

    • I’ve had a lot of credit card fraud issues. They were all “inside jobs” that none of these technologies will address. I’d get a new card, set a new password, and within a month someone would call the credit card company with that password, change my home address, and make a cash advance transfer to a bank (around $2,000 each time). After two years of repeatedly getting new cards I just closed the account.

  13. Actually, Kirk, it will be a big deal in Europe if our experience here in Australia is anything to go by.

    Here in Australia we already have widespread roll-out of contact-less NFC chip-equipped credit cards where no swipe of card insertion or pin code is required. Just tap the card on the NFC reader and that’s it. It has proven to be very popular and much more frictionless – it’s amazing how much more convenient it is than having to accurately swipe or insert the card and then enter a pin code.

    However, there is a frustrating Aus$100 limit to transactions (US$92) and you still have to fool around pulling out your wallet then shuffling through your cards etc. It is also quite insecure in that anyone could steal your card and make as many $100 purchases as they wished without having to type a pin or sign until you finally realised and cancelled your card.

    In contrast, the additional ease of just pulling out your phone pressing your thumb to the fingerprint reader as you tap the NFC reader without having to launch any apps or type any PINs is a very real improvement in ease of use and security.

    With fingerprint authentication, you won’t have the $100 limit and if someone steals your phone it won’t matter due to the fingerprint reader and Apple’s Find Phone, Lost Mode and Activation lock.

    • That’s a much higher limit than what is the case here, according to what others have said in the comments. Is there no worry that if you lose the card, anyone can make a lot of not-so-small purchases with it?

      • If you lose the card and someone makes 1 or 50 $100 purchases you simply tell the credit card company you didn’t make them and they are reversed. I’ve never list a dime due to fraudulent credit card usage, just time in phone calls and sometimes signing and mailing back affidavits. (Some CC companies here require those affidavit signatures to be notarized but not mine … So far).

  14. Actually, Kirk, it will be a big deal in Europe if our experience here in Australia is anything to go by.

    Here in Australia we already have widespread roll-out of contact-less NFC chip-equipped credit cards where no swipe of card insertion or pin code is required. Just tap the card on the NFC reader and that’s it. It has proven to be very popular and much more frictionless – it’s amazing how much more convenient it is than having to accurately swipe or insert the card and then enter a pin code.

    However, there is a frustrating Aus$100 limit to transactions (US$92) and you still have to fool around pulling out your wallet then shuffling through your cards etc. It is also quite insecure in that anyone could steal your card and make as many $100 purchases as they wished without having to type a pin or sign until you finally realised and cancelled your card.

    In contrast, the additional ease of just pulling out your phone pressing your thumb to the fingerprint reader as you tap the NFC reader without having to launch any apps or type any PINs is a very real improvement in ease of use and security.

    With fingerprint authentication, you won’t have the $100 limit and if someone steals your phone it won’t matter due to the fingerprint reader and Apple’s Find Phone, Lost Mode and Activation lock.

    • That’s a much higher limit than what is the case here, according to what others have said in the comments. Is there no worry that if you lose the card, anyone can make a lot of not-so-small purchases with it?

      • If you lose the card and someone makes 1 or 50 $100 purchases you simply tell the credit card company you didn’t make them and they are reversed. I’ve never list a dime due to fraudulent credit card usage, just time in phone calls and sometimes signing and mailing back affidavits. (Some CC companies here require those affidavit signatures to be notarized but not mine … So far).

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