Apple Pay quietly went live on at least three SA banks – but there is a notable exception

Business Insider SA
Apple Pay on Absa
  • The Apple Pay function on iPhones and Apple Watches is now available in South Africa – for the customer of some banks.
  • First National Bank is a notable exception.
  • Cardholders with Absa, Discovery Bank, and Nedbank reported they could use it, and only then did the banks confirm the service had been switched on.
  • In theory – and so far in practice – iPhones can now be used to pay anywhere tap payments by card are accepted.
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By mid-day on Tuesday, South Africans were reporting success in buying coffee and fried chicken by using their iPhones, or Apple Watches, instead of a payment card, as Apple Pay quietly went live via some South African banks.

Legal preparations for the South African launch of the service were spotted in January, but neither Apple nor its bank partners ever announced a date. Keeping with that approach, Nedbank on Tuesday only confirmed the news after being approached for comment, while Absa issued a belated press release after users had already posted details of the experience on social media.

Apple itself had not yet listed the feature as available in South Africa by the time of publication.

Apple Pay has been gradually rolled out since launch in the United States, most recently in Mexico.

Card issuers must make their debit or credit cards available for registration on Apple Pay, and by Tuesday users reported they could use cards from Discovery Bank as well as Nedbank and Absa.

Missing from the list, though, was technology-focussed First National Bank, to the considerable dismay of early adopters who threatened to abandon FNB.

In a short statement, FNB said it is "working with Apple" and will make Apple Pay available to customers – but did not mention a date.

Apple Pay requires loading the details of a payment card, with verification from the issuing bank. Once a card is active, an iPhone or Apple Watch can be used to make payment at any terminal that accepts tap-to-pay cards, which use the same near-field communication (NFC) system. Verification on the device is via image or fingerprint, using the standard Face ID and Touch ID systems, or with a passcode.

Apple Pay can also be used in some apps.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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