Is Apple Pay secure? What are the risks and who can use them?

Apple Pay has quickly become one of the most popular payment methods in the UK.

In fact, Blighty topped the list of countries using Apple Pay the most in 2021, with 63% of people using it at least once in stores or restaurants compared to just 57% of people in the US.


Apple Pay works on both iPhone and Apple WatchCredit: Apple

This is likely due to its ease of use.

By replacing physical cards and cash with contactless payment technology that lets you pay for things via your iPhone or Apple Watch, the service makes paying faster and easier for life, whether you’re in a store, on a website, or in an app.

However, is the mobile payment service and digital wallet safe to use?

Is Apple Pay secure?

With cell phones still the most common stolen item in the UK, it’s no surprise that some people feel uneasy about having their bank cards digitally available on their mobile devices.

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And with online fraud and cybercrime on the rise, it is always dangerous to get your banking information on a device that is constantly connected to the internet.

According to Apple, not only is the mobile payment service completely safe to use, but it is actually safer than using a credit, debit or prepaid card.

The smartphone maker says this is because Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode are required for purchases on any Apple device, whether it’s an iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac or iPad.

UK banking giant Barclays says Apple Pay is a “very secure way to make payments” as your card numbers aren’t stored on your device, shared with merchants or sent with your payment.

Instead, Apple Pay gives you a unique “Device Account Number” that is encrypted and stored in a secure part of your device. Therefore, when you use Apple Pay, your device account number and a security code created specifically for payment processing are used.

Furthermore, when you pay with a debit or credit card, Apple says it does not keep transaction information that can be linked to you.

Even if your iPhone or Apple Watch is lost or stolen and you’re worried that someone might use your cards without your permission, thieves won’t be able to use Apple Pay because every transaction has to be approved by your fingerprint, face, or passcode.

Whoever finds your lost iPhone will be able to see your billing address and the last four digits of your stored cards, but there’s no more information than that.

What are the risks of Apple Pay?

Apple Pay has proven to be a very secure payment method since its introduction to the UK in 2015, and there are very few instances where users have been defrauded as a result of using the service.

However, nothing is always 100% secure, and sometimes vulnerabilities are discovered that may put users at risk.

In September, for example, researchers at the Universities of Birmingham and Surrey discovered an iPhone flaw that meant hackers could force your locked device to make large, unauthorized contactless payments.

The critical issue was revealed during an Apple Pay hack trial, which demonstrated how a locked iPhone could be forced to unlock to make a £1,000 contactless Visa payment to his account.

However, this type of attack is extremely rare. Visa also said that it is impractical outside of a lab environment and that its payments are secure.

Another potential risk to watch out for is if your iPhone is connected to a public network when using Apple Pay.

iPhones automatically search for and sometimes connect to available Wi-Fi connections by default. And since public networks are often targeted by hackers waiting to bypass unsecured financial transactions, such as unauthorized contactless payments, it’s worth being careful.

However, Apple Pay uses NFC chips to carry out contactless payment transactions, so you don’t need an internet connection to work.

To be extra safe, it can be helpful to turn off WiFi while shopping as a precaution, or check that you’re not connected to a public network before paying for something with Apple Pay

“There have been few or no incidents where devices have been hacked [as a result of using Apple Pay] This will only be in cases where the phone software has already been interfered withsaid Kent Forland, CEO of global payments company, SimplyPayMe, speaking to The Sun.

Vorland adds that any risk of using Apple Pay will generally come down to consumer security for accessing their devices, such as a passcode or biometric layers (face or fingerprint technology).

“If these layers of security are in place, Apple’s solution can in many cases be more secure than paying with your traditional credit or debit card, especially if that card is contactless enabled because all it takes is a click of the Stolen card on terminals anywhere in order to approve transactions.”

Who can use Apple Pay?

Anyone can use Apple Pay as long as they own an Apple device and their bank supports it. In the UK, those with an American Express, Mastercard or Visa will be able to use the service without problems, if banking with the following banks:

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HSBC, NatWest, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Ulster Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds, MBNA, M&S Bank, TSB and Tesco Bank.

Although, as you might expect, Apple Pay does not work on Android devices. Google Pay, the Android version of Apple Pay, is the contactless payment method of choice for Android users and works in a very similar way.

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