UK Security Experts Back Apple Pay

Apple Pay has been met with praise from security experts in the UK. The service has just been launched in the country, with security advisors branding it as safe and secure as chip and PIN cards. iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch owners are now able to ‘touch and pay’ in shops accepting Visa contactless payment stores, of which they are currently around 250,000. A number of big names are already offering Apple Pay support, including Boots, the Post Office and Starbucks, to name but a few.

How it Works

Users are asked to place their finger on their device’s Touch ID biometric authentication system prior to making a payment, or enter a four-digit passcode. If a device is lost or stolen, owners can use the Find My iPhone facility to make handset payments impossible. The tokenization facility used by Apple pay means merchant can’t store or transmit card details. The details are converted into a unique device account number or DAN when a card is registered, before being stored on the secure element of the chip in encrypted form. Each time a payment is made, the DAN is combined with security code used just once for the transaction in question. After the user authenticates via their finger or passcode, the secure element sends the data to the payment processor. Confirmation is then made.

A More Secure Option?

The secure element has been described as being as secure as the chip found in chip and PIN cards by experts. They say it can “withstand external attacks”, with information being destroyed upon detection of a hardware attack. Apple Pay is expected to popularise mobile and contactless payments and drive them further into the mainstream. Some experts think it may be harder to convince merchants to adopt the technology, with well-documented security problems related to Apple Pay having surfaced in the US earlier this year. This was blamed on banks employing inadequate authentication systems. However, it’s thought that UK banks have designed their systems to work perfectly from the outset, with many consumers already being used to NFC technology.

Learning from the US?

Experts say UK banks have taken advantage of the mistakes made by US banks and learned from them. They say demand for contactless payments has grown significantly over recent years, with the ability to simply tap to complete a transaction offering real value for the consumer.

Advice for Apple Pay users

NFC allows consumers to go about their business without having to carry cash or wallets. The UK has become the first non-US to get Apple Pay. iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 owners are also able to use Apple Pay to make online transactions. Transactions are limited at £20 but are set to rise to £30 later this year. Apple Pay is available to consumers aged 13 and above. Apple has told users not to “jailbreak” or make other modifications to the iOS operating system, whilst card companies are asking users not to let other people add their fingerprints to the sensors. Some payment firms are instructing users to tell them as soon as they suspect their device has gone missing in order to avoid being made liable for purchases made fraudulently.

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