This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
The leading contactless payment system, Apple Pay lets your customers pay via their Apple Watch or iPhone (iOS 6 and higher). It is secure for both merchants and customers and costs merchants the same processing fees as regular credit cards.
Accepting Apple Pay, which includes choosing a compatible payment processor, purchasing an NFC card reader, adding an Apple Pay button to your online checkout, and letting customers know you accept the mobile payment service, is an easy way to give your customers more choice in how they pay for items.
Step 1: Choose a Payment Processor That Accepts Apple Pay
Most payment processors and merchant accounts handle Apple Pay transactions, usually at the same rates they charge for regular credit card transactions. If you already have a merchant account, call or check the Help section for how to enable Apple Pay payments. You may need a new card reader or terminal that accepts contactless (tap) payments.
If you are still shopping for a payment processor, below are some of our top recommendations.
Most small businesses
2.6% + 10 cents
3.5% + 15 cents
Ecommerce and multichannel retailers
2.4% to 2.7%
2.4% + 30 cents to 2.7% + 30 cents
$29+ (for software)
2.7% + 5 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
Those with a merchant account
2.6% + 10 cents*
3.5% + 10 cents*
Varies by provider
2.29% + 9 cents
3.49% + 9 cents
Cheapest processing fees
Interchange + 8 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
Interchange plus 0.3% + 8 cents
Interchange plus 0.5% + 25 cents
Interchange + 8 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
First one free; $75
*Clover NFC devices can be purchased through many different merchant account providers. Rates will vary depending on your provider.
Step 2: Purchase & Install NFC-enabled Hardware
Apple Pay—like other contactless payments—uses near field communication (NFC) technology, which lets two systems communicate wirelessly when in close proximity to each other. Therefore, you need a card reader that has this kind of technology.
Most card readers are already so equipped, but there are still a few that aren’t, like Square’s free magstripe card reader. Therefore, you’ll need to check that your card reader allows tap payments. If in doubt, check the specs or look for the wireless symbol on the reader.
Installing NFC hardware for Apple Pay
Setting up your card reader is easy. Instructions may vary by app or POS system, but the basic steps are the same. We’ll use Square as an example. Make sure your software or app is updated before pairing your hardware.
You may want to run a test transaction to make sure everything worked correctly. Some merchant services, like Shopify, have a dummy store or a test mode where you can run a trial without it registering on your live system. Otherwise, you may need to run a small transaction, like $1, and refund it. Keep in mind that you may not get the processing fees back if you do it this way.
Small readers like the one shown above may go into sleep mode to conserve power. If that happens, press the power button briefly, and it should automatically pair up again.
Once your reader is set up, don’t forget to train employees. It’s not hard to use Apple Pay, but you should teach your employees how it’s done so they can help customers. The most important step is to be sure the customer has their finger on the Touch ID.
Step 3: Add an Apple Pay Button to Your Online Checkout
How easy it is to add Apple Pay to your online store depends on the payment processor and webstore program. Check the Help section of your specific software for instructions, but we’ll look at Shopify and Stripe as examples.
Step 4: Let Customers Know You Accept Apple Pay
Apple offers decals (available for free here) and icons you can add to your brick-and-mortar and online stores. It also has instructions for adding notices to your Maps setting and provides other guidelines. Learn more at Apple Pay. Some payment processors, like Square, offer their own Apple Pay marketing kit.
How Does Apple Pay Work?
For customers to use Apple Pay, they will have had to sign up for it on their iPhones and put in their credit card information. After that, using Apple Pay is simple: The customer simply holds their iPhone within an inch of the card reader while they have their finger on the Touch ID. Then, they wait until they see Done and a check mark on the display. Some systems may have a different notification.
Benefits of Accepting Apple Pay
- Speed: Apple Pay, like other contactless payments, processes quicker than credit card payments (both chip or stripe) and is certainly faster than cash. That means faster checkouts, shorter lines, and greater customer satisfaction.
- Secure for customers: Apple Pay tokenizes and encrypts card data, making it hard for fraudsters to access it. It also requires fingerprint verification or authentication using the customer’s phone password. So even if a thief had a customer’s phone, they still can’t get the Apple Pay account.
- Secure for businesses: When using Apple Pay for online payments, Apple saves all the card information, so you don’t need to worry about saving customer card info.
- Health: In light of COVID-19, people are more concerned than ever about reducing how often they touch things that others have handled, whether cash or a card reader. NFC payments provide a safe alternative for your customers and employees.
- Popularity: An estimated 70% of merchants are accepting Apple Pay. It is available in 69 countries, and according to Statista, 54% of US and Canadian consumers have used it to buy something in person (63% in the UK). The percentage is around 21% for online sales in these countries.
- Reduced abandoned carts: The top two reasons for people not completing online sales are their frustration with the checkout process (18%) and because they didn’t trust a site with their credit card information (17%), per Baymard Research. Apple Pay makes it easy and keeps card information to itself.
Accepting Apple Pay Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is using Apple Pay a good idea?
Yes, it is. Secure and easy for both merchants and customers, Apple Pay is a good way to send and receive payments.
Are there additional costs for accepting Apple Pay?
The only additional cost may be for an upgraded card reader if your current card reader does not take NFC payments. Apply Pay costs the same as processing a regular credit card.
Is Apple Pay secure?
Very! In addition to encrypting and tokenizing card information, it requires fingerprint verification when paying.
Does Apple Pay work differently on Apple Watch?
The process is the same for Apple Pay on Apple Watch, although there is no fingerprint requirement for the watch. The watch simply needs to stay on the wrist and needs to be paired with the phone.
Can I accept Apple Pay online and in person?
Yes, you can program your online store to accept Apple Pay.
Apple Pay is a popular contactless payment, with 45.5% of the share of mobile wallet users. While PYMNTS.com reports that Apple Pay only accounts for 6% of purchases, that still means $90 billion in sales in 2021. This convenient and secure mobile payment service is relatively easy to set up and can speed up checkout, improve customer satisfaction, and help increase the number of sales. Talk to your payment provider about accepting Apple Pay and get started.