Apple has confirmed a number of partners for the arrival of its Apple Pay mobile payments service in the UK.
Apple Pay, which has been available in the US since October, will see its first international expansion with a UK launch in July.
At Apple's WWDC event on Monday, the company confirmed that Apple Pay will add support for cards from eight UK banks - First Direct, HSBC, NatWest, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, and Ulster Bank - from next month. A second tranche of banks, including Bank of Scotland, Coutts, Halifax, Lloyds Bank, MBNA, M&S Bank, and TSB, will join Apple Pay in the autumn.
One of the UK's largest banks, Barclays, is notably absent from the list. A spokesperson for the bank said: "We've been talking with Apple about how our customers could use Apple Pay, in addition to our existing contactless and mobile payment services. Those talks remain constructive."
Nathan Bostock, CEO at Santander UK, added that Apple pay is "the obvious choice" for its customers, as the company sees "a significant overlap between UK consumers with iPhones and Santander 1|2|3 World customers".
Ross McEwan, CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, added: "We are pleased to be among the first UK banks to offer this service to our customers."
Among the UK companies that will take Apple Pay payments at their stores are fast food outlets such as KFC, McDonalds, Nando's, Pret A Manger, and Subway; coffee chains including Costa Coffee and Starbucks; and retailers including Marks & Spencer, New Look, Spar, and Waitrose. Both London Underground and the Post Office will also accept Apple Pay. According to Apple, over 250,000 locations will take Apple Pay in the UK when the service launches next month.
A number of other retailers, including Argos, easyJet, JD Sports, and Topshop, will also accept Apple Pay payments within their apps.
While contactless payments are growing in the UK, accounting for over four percent of card purchases in February, according to the UK Card Association, NFC payments using mobile devices remain niche. Consultancy Deloitte predicts that by the end of this year, around five percent of people with NFC-enabled smartphones will use them to make payments at least once a month.
Apple has yet to give any figures on how many transactions have been made using Apple Pay, or their total value. However, on the company's most recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that the number of merchants taking Apple Pay has tripled since the service's launch. In a separate earnings call in January, Cook said Apple Pay accounts for $2 out of every $3 spent in contactless payments in the US.
China is likely to be one of the next countries to see the arrival of Apple Pay. Last month, Cook told Chinese news agency Xinhua that he was "very bullish" about the service's prospects in the country. The company has also reportedly been in talks with Alibaba about rolling out Apple Pay. However, a number of publications have highlighted Apple's potential difficulties in taking Apple Pay to China, including whether the service meets government requirements and tension between Apple's contactless payments system and that of UnionPay, China's main bank.
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