Visa Token Service to take Apple Pay innards beyond Apple and US

The token service behind the new Apple Pay system featured in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch has been designed to be used beyond Apple's ecosystem, Visa has said.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Apple has announced the release of its next-generation iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, along with its highly anticipated Apple Watch.

All three devices will be integrated with a near-field communication (NFC)-enabled chip, which Apple has labelled Apple Pay. This means that iPhone users will finally be able to make contactless payments, a feature that has been on the market for years with other phone models. Credit card details will be stored on Passbook, otherwise known as iCloud, with Apple claiming that all payment information will be "kept private, encrypted, and stored securely". This is despite the recent backlash that Apple received following the celebrity iCloud hack.

Unfortunately, Apple Pay will only be available in the US from October, although Apple says it is "working hard" with major merchants Visa and MasterCard to bring the feature to other countries.

Visa is already working on making this happen sooner, announcing the launch of the Visa Token Service, a technology that has been designed to support payments with mobile devices using all major mobile platforms. It has also been launched to replace sensitive payment account information that could be stored on handsets with a digital "token", making both online or mobile payments more secure. Visa said this means that issuers are expected to see a decrease in e- and m-commerce fraud, and merchants will see a reduction in threat of sensitive payment data being compromised.

The technology will begin rolling out with US banks next month, followed by a phased rollout in other territories beginning in 2015.

The Token Service comes in light of a digital payments standard that was introduced in October 2013 by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, aimed to enhance security levels for purchases made on smart devices, protecting both consumers and merchants.

George Lawson, Visa's head of emerging products and innovation, said Australia will be one of the key focus markets for Visa to bring Apple Pay live.

"Australia is leading the world in its adoption of contactless payments, and e- and m-commerce are experiencing incredibly rapid growth; so all the conditions exist to enable a mass shift to mobile payments in Australia/New Zealand," he said.

"Today's announcement means that as Apple Pay rolls out around the world, Visa account holders will be able to use their Apple iPhone 6 to pay at the point of sale, using contactless Visa payWave technology, in-app or online in a secure way."

ZDNet has also contacted Australia's major banks for comment on how they will make Apple Pay available in Australia, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

The iPhone 6 will feature a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with 1,334x750 resolution, and the iPhone 6 Plus will have a 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1,920x1,080 resolution.

Both models will include the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and the new barometer, which senses air pressure to provide relative elevation. The M8 motion coprocessor will be able to continue to detect and measure motion data even when the device is asleep.

The phones will also be compatible with the 700Mhz spectrum that Telstra and Optus are currently rolling out.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will come in gold, silver, and space grey options. The recommended retail price in Australia for the iPhone 6 will be starting at AU$869, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a recommended retail price from AU$999. By comparison, these prices are much higher than what US consumers are paying. One of the reasons for the difference is that Australian consumers are being hit with an additional 10 percent tax on top of the US base price.

The new phones will hit stores on Friday, September 19, and customers can pre-order both models beginning on Friday, September 12. The handsets will be available through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Virgin Mobile.

Along with the iPhone, Apple announced Apple Watch, which will let users send and receive messages, answer calls to their iPhone, and draw pictures to be sent to fellow Apple Watch users as messages with Digital Touch. It, too, will have the Apple Pay NFC chip feature. The watch has also been installed with a heart monitor that will able to measure a user's pulse and monitor their daily activity. Apple Watch will be available in early 2015, starting at $349 in the US.

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