Apple’s new digital payment service, Apple Pay, will launch in Israel on May 5, and will allow iPhone and Apple Watch owners to use their devices to make purchases in most stores in the country.
For Apple users that is quite the change, since iOS based devices - unlike their Android counterparts - could not be used to make any sort of outside payment as Apple blocks access in its devices to the NFC chip used by external payment services.
Apple Pay makes its way to Israel seven years after its initial launch. For years, its use in Israel was not technically possible.
The decision of the Bank of Israel to oblige businesses to use EMV terminals - which enable the user to pay via an integrated chip in their credit card - the use of Apple Pay, as well as other digital wallets, was made possible.
Later, discussions were held between Apple and the credit companies over commission. After these talks concluded, however, the coronavirus pandemic struck and effectively shuttered the country's economy completely.
Now that the country’s economy has reopened, the way is paved for Apple Pay - which is already active in 62 countries and is estimated to have more than half a billion users - to launch in Israel.
The app, called simply Wallet, is built into every iPhone. Those wishing to use the app need only enter their credit card information or scan their card using their device’s camera.
When paying, the selected card is virtually "pulled out" and is then used to pay via the terminal in the store with no physical contact whatsoever, thanks to the device’s wireless technology.
To ensure no unauthorized use, the app uses a fingerprint sensor, face recognition or a personalized code to ensure the user’s identity. In case the device is stolen, credit card companies can simply unmatch the card from the selected device, so there is no need to cancel the card outright.
As for which businesses will accept Apple Pay: As per the Bank of Israel’s order, starting July 31, almost all businesses, even small ones, will have to use the EMV terminals with which Apple Pay works.
Gas fueling stations and businesses where 90% of their credit card activity is done by phone or online will not be obligated to use these terminals however.