November 17, 2015 10:37 am

Apple Pay lands in Canada — but only for American Express users

Eddy Cue, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, demonstrates the new Apple Pay mobile payment system.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File
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Apple Pay is available in Canada starting Tuesday and in Australia on Thursday, however, Apple Pay is limited initially to American Express cards.

American Express cardholders represent just 8.2 per cent of the Canadian market, according to the Nilson Report, while the service is limited to only those merchants who currently accept AmEx cards.

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In the U.S., where Apple Pay started in October 2014, the service will expand Tuesday to more than 100 additional card issuers — mostly smaller banks and credit unions. Apple Pay already accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards from most major banks. In the U.K., Tesco and TSB banks will join Apple Pay on Tuesday.

The developments come a few months after Google launched its own tap-and-pay service, Android Pay, while Samsung started Samsung Pay. Both are for Android phones, while Apple Pay requires iPhones.

MORE: Tap payments are surging among Canadian creditcard holders

Why Amex

Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice-president for Apple Pay, said the company is starting with American Express in Canada (and Australia) because it’s both the card issuer and the payment-network operator, so co-ordination is easier. With Visa and MasterCard, individual banks issue the cards, and each bank has its own way of verifying a customer’s identity when setting up Apple Pay, for instance.

Meanwhile, Apple is working with makers of various payment machines to bring tapping capabilities to additional merchants, small and large.

When Apple Pay launched, the U.S. had 200,000 tap-capable machines. That’s expected to surpass 1.5 million this year. The growth includes about 100,000 small to medium-sized merchants each month, Apple said.

Apple said Tuesday that Cinnabon will add Apple Pay to all its U.S. locations next year, while Domino’s company-owned pizza stores will get it by year’s end. Earlier, Apple said Starbucks will conduct a pilot this year, with a broader rollout next year, while KFC will launch next spring.

Despite the momentum, several million more U.S. retailers still have older machines that lack the right technology — a situation that applies to many if not most Canadian merchants, as well.

 

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