Finance

Apple Pay delay for Aussies, but will small businesses benefit from iPhone ‘tap and go’?

Kirsten Robb /

While Australians will be some of the first to receive the new iPhone 6, Aussies may be waiting much longer to use one of the gadget’s most-hyped features.

The Apple Pay system, which was announced yesterday alongside the company’s latest gadgets, was touted by Apple chief executive Tim Cook to “replace the wallet”, but it is unclear when the feature will make its way to Australian shores.

The ‘tap and go’ system will allow customers to make payments with their iPhone or iWatches simply by swiping the device and verifying it with their fingerprints through Apple’s Touch ID feature.

Major payments networks Visa, MasterCard and American Express have signed on and the tech titan announced at its event yesterday the system will be up and running in the US within the next month.

Apple Australia confirmed to SmartCompany no details have been confirmed for a release in other markets.

Payments expert Steve Worthington, adjunct professor at Swinburne University, says Australian small businesses will have to wait and see what the terms and conditions of the new payment method are before assessing its impact.

“The main thing for small business will be assessing if Apple Pay will be better than the existing charges they receive for existing payment methods, which are relatively higher than major retailers,” says Worthington.

“Small businesses will not be rushing in with open arms; they’ll be saying ‘what’s the deal?’”

Worthington says small business may also be concerned about a further move away from cash, although he says we are a long way off becoming a cashless economy.

He says it is likely Apple will look to recruit retailers, including small businesses, when it does launch in Australia and may offer retailers some incentives to take on the payment method.

“If Apple Pay wants to make a success of it, they will have to make benefits other than instantaneity,” he says.  

Apple is not the first to use such mobile payment technology. Payment provider PayPal already has a similar ‘wallet’ style feature and in July, Australian supermarket Coles launched the Coles Mobile Wallet to allow their customers to use a ‘Coles Pay Tag’ attached to their mobile phone.

But while the tech giants grapple to take control of the mobile payment space, they may be in for a surprise when it comes to consumer readiness, according to Worthington.

“From a consumer point of view there is perceived danger here if we load everything on to our mobile phones,” he says.

“What happens if we lose them? Consumers will have doubts and worries about putting everything, including their credit card information, on to their phones.”

“We may be more reluctant here than Apple anticipates.”

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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