Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off Thursday's Apple event in Cupertino with a recap of last month's product reveal, and was quick to tout the accomplishments of the company's mobile payment platform Apple Pay, which is set to officially launch Monday.
Cook said that since last month, Apple has signed another 500 banks to support the platform. Withouth immediately naming names, Cook said the banks will begin rolling out support later this year and early next year.
"We think it's going to be profound," Cook said, adding that the "journey begins Monday and we can't wait."
When Apple announced Apple Pay in September, the company touted that American Express, MasterCard and Visa are on board as processing partners through a number of issuing banks including Citi, Capital One, PNC and USBank. It also announced a number of initial retail partners including Macy's, Staples, Walgreens.
The addition of 500 financial institutions is a major success milestone for Apple Pay. But although nearly 220,000 merchants and retailers accept contactless payments, merchant adoption of Apple Pay is still fairly thin, at least for the time being.
Apple Pay utilizes NFC for contactless payments and a dedicated chip called the Secure Element. It integrates with Apple's Passbook app, which originally launched with iOS 7. It will also integrate with Touch ID for security purposes. Users will set up and control their wallets via their iTunes account.
Apple Pay and iPad
Apple cleared up any questions of whether its latest iPad Air and iPad Mini would support Apple Pay, and as much as we would have all loved to laugh at consumers pulling out tablets to pay at a point of sale, Apple Pay will only work with online purchases.
"As you know, all of us who use iPad are prodigious shoppers," said Philip Schiller, SVP of worldwide marketing at Apple. "Now with TouchID, you'll be able to use Apple Pay to make online purchases — this isn't retail point of sale."
Apple included a near-field communication chip in its new iPhone 6 devices and the Apple Watch. It was essential to make the device capable of pairing with other devices for payments at the point of sale. But there's no NFC in the new iPad Air or the iPad Mini.