Apple Pay, launched in 2016 in France, allowed individuals to pay for their purchases at the vast majority of merchants using their iPhone as a credit card. The converse is now true. The Californian group Apple is launching the Tap to Pay service this Tuesday in France. This time, it’s merchants’ iPhones that are transformed into real payment terminals. “When paying, the merchant will simply invite the customer to bring their contactless bank card, iPhone or Apple Watch close to their own iPhone in order to pay with Apple Pay or another digital wallet. Payment will be made securely using NFC technology,” promises Apple.
The only condition is that merchants must have an XS model or later, as well as an application from one of Apple's partner payment platforms. For the launch, the group has taken a broad view and already has agreements with the BPCE group (Banques Populaires, Caisses d'Epargne and Payplug), but also the companies Adyen, myPOS, Revolut, SumUp, Viva Wallet and Worldline. “They will soon be joined by BNP Paribas, Crédit Coopératif, MarketPay, Stancer and Stripe,” Apple further indicates. The American giant estimates that this network of partners already represents several million small and large French companies. Network that Apple intends to expand in the future.
As for customers, they will be able to use their Apple Pay application connected to their bank cards, or simply physical bank cards as long as they belong to the following networks: American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa. The American group has been working for several months on the integration of the French CB (Cartes Bancaires), which according to Apple remains “the most used payment scheme on the French market”.
On the brand side, the system will gradually ramp up. But Tap to Pay will already be available this Tuesday in the various Apple Stores in France. It will also be in several fashion brands such as Christian Dior Couture, Dyson, Rituals and Sézane, as well as Sephora in the coming weeks. The l'Addition group, which equips several thousand restaurants with these payment systems, has also integrated Tap To Pay into its systems.
France joins a contingent of not-so-numerous countries which now have the service, including the United States, Taiwan, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The group has thus favored areas in which it feels a strong appetite from the financial ecosystem for its solution, whether on the side of payment partners, or on the side of brands. Apple is also looking into countries where contactless payment penetration is high. In France, where 98% of distributors accept Apple Pay and where 9 out of 10 French people regularly use contactless with their card, the implementation seemed obvious.
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In the United States, Tap to Pay is not only attracting merchants who already had a payment system, but many entrepreneurs or craftsmen such as plumbers who until now only used cash. Large brands are also interested in the system which allows their salespeople to accompany and collect payments from customers throughout the store without having to return to the checkout to use the terminals.
The group led by Tim Cook remains discreet about how it monetizes this service. Apple confirms that it does not charge merchants commission on their transactions. It nevertheless has financial agreements with payment platforms. But then, what is the point for these platforms to pay Tap to Pay when they can offer their payment terminals to merchants themselves? “The 'hardware' part is not the heart of the activity of payment platforms, which remains the transaction itself. It is generally a cost and an unprofitable activity for them to install and manage the maintenance of these terminals,” says an expert in this industry.
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Undoubtedly, most brands will initially opt for a complementary approach with a terminal and payment via iPhone. The fact remains that for economic reasons, this type of service, also available in several countries including France on Google's operating system, Android, could ultimately condemn the payment terminal.