Apple Pay and the Payment Experience


Apple introduced Apple Pay—a mobile-payments service—during its September 9th keynote. The service will be available starting October in the U.S. for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users and in early 2015 for Apple Watch users.

One of Apple’s key achievements is simplicity of design facilitated by an ecosystem of products and services. Apple Pay is yet another example of Apple’s ability to bring together multiple stakeholders (merchants, developers and payment solution providers) to achieve a seamless experience for the user. In addition, Apple Pay incurs no charges to merchants, developers, or users.

Getting Started – Adding A Card

Apple Pay is supported by the Visa, MasterCard, and American Express networks for cards issued by American Express, Bank of America, CapitalOne, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo with more banks coming soon.

Users can import credit cards from iTunes simply by entering the card’s security code. In addition, users can add credit cards by scanning them with their phone’s camera. All cards are managed via Passbook. The actual card number is never stored on the phone. Rather, a Device Account Number is created and stored in the Secure Element, a dedicated chip on the phone.

Paying – Retail

To pay at retail locations, simply, place the phone next to a contactless payment terminal (identified by the icon at right) while pressing your finger on Touch ID. The user’s payment information is sent to the merchant using Near Field Communication (NFC).

Paying – App

Apple Pay can also be used for the purchase of physical goods and services via an app, though users will continue to use In-App Purchase to buy virtual goods and digital content subscriptions.

Using Apple Pay is easy: simply tap the ‘Apple Pay’ or ‘Buy with Apple Pay’ button and the user is presented with what Apple refers to as the “Pay Sheet.” From here users can confirm or modify the details of their purchase (e.g. card, billing address, shipping address, shipping method, contact and price). The user then completes payment by pressing a finger on Touch ID.

User Experience

Now that we know what Apple Pay is, and how to use it, let’s explore how it improves the payment experience for customers in a manner that leads to increased sales and/or brand affinity.

With any payment experience the goal is reduction of friction, making the entire purchase process—whether a single item purchase or a checkout flow—as easy and simple as possible in order to maximize conversion and reduce cart abandonment.

Let’s now discuss the current user experience of popular apps and discover how Apple Pay might improve that experience when added as an alternate payment method.



On the left is a mockup from Apple’s newly published Apple Pay Identity Guidelines. On the right is a screenshot of the Uber app.

These screens illustrate basic payment-options screens where a user would add, edit, and remove payment preferences, typically in the form of individual cards.

In the mockup, Apple Pay is presented as a selected option. Since Uber launches with Apple Pay in October, it will be interesting to see if Apple Pay will appear as a default payment option or if users will need to tap “Add Payment” and select Apple Pay to add it to their payment options. I’d recommend an opt-in because a default inclusion could spur user-confusion and backlash. In the payments space, it’s important to allow users to actively make their own payment choice and to select which apps have access to which payment methods.

In this case, Apple Pay eliminates the need to add a credit card specifically for Uber (either by entering the card number manually or scanning it with the camera). The ability to select one payment type that pre-populates all of your payment info across the multiple apps on your device will reduce friction and save users a tremendous amount of time. Instead of thinking, “Do I really want to buy this?” while typing in a card number, the user simply selects Apple Pay and completes the transaction with Touch ID.



On the left is a promo screenshot from Apple’s website of what the Target app may look like with Apple Pay and on the right is a device screenshot of the Target app displaying the same product.

In this case, Target may be launching a new “express checkout” feature for users of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Customers would presumably click an Express Buy button and then have the option to immediately pay via Apple Pay or add the item to their shopping cart for additional consideration. Target’s typical mobile payment flow is a multi-step process that involves:
1) adding an item to the cart
2) viewing the cart
3) checking out
4) entering delivery info and shipping method
5) selecting payment method
6) entering payment info, including billing address
7) reviewing and tapping to complete the order.

With the new flow, these seven steps have been reduced to three:
1) tap to enter express checkout
2) tap Apple Pay button
3) confirm details on pay sheet then confirm and complete the transaction via Touch ID

Apple Pay makes the experience more seamless by relying on stored payment and address data, requiring fewer taps to purchase.

It will be interesting for companies that implement Apple Pay to compare sales of the same item in the same period for users with access to checkout via Apple Pay versus those using the traditional process.

It will also be an interesting metric to determine the number of users who have Apple Pay enabled devices but choose not to use it as a payment method. This can be done by tracking the device type in analytics and comparing to the final payment method across device types. Will users trust Apple as a single entry point for all of their payment data across apps or will they feel more comfortable providing it on a merchant by merchant basis?


Pay Sheet

Here’s a look at the pay sheet displayed when Apple Pay is chosen as the payment type. The pay sheet can be setup to display only the fields needed for a transaction. For example, for the Uber app, only Card & Billing, and Contact might display. It’s interesting that the user is able to approve a purchase with Apple Pay even when the price isn’t final. With Uber the final price isn’t determined until the ride is over so in this case Apple Pay is actually authorizing a future transaction for an unknown amount.

From the Pay Sheet, users can select and modify Card & Billing, Shipping, Method, and Contact and then pay with Touch ID—or simply confirm the info visually without making changes and then Pay with Touch ID.

Key Considerations for The Enterprise

If you have an app that accepts payments, consider the following when exploring implementing Apple Pay:

Does my payment solutions provider support Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is currently officially supported by, Chase Paymentech, CyberSource, First Data, Stripe and TSYS. Many of these companies provide SDKs that now include Apple Pay as an option, as well as implementation documentation.

Do I understand the Apple Pay – Human Interface Guidelines and do I have the right resources?
Apple has very specific requirements for how to present Apple Pay as a payment option as well as specific buttons required to invoke the pay sheet. More information can be found at:

Has the development team obtained a Merchant ID, generated a Certificate Signing Request to obtain a key, and received a payment entitlement certificate from Apple?
All of these tasks can be accomplished via the Apple Developer portal as well as your respective payment provider’s dashboard.

Did I plan with my UX/UI team for the Apple Pay experience? Does Apple Pay provide additional shorter payment flow options I can test for better conversion? Am I going to treat Apple Pay as the sole payment option and present the Buy with Apple Pay button or offer it as a payment option amongst many?

Did I ensure my payment flow has both a standard and Apple Pay enabled workflow?
Companies need to provide an alternative workflow for users who do not have iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. How will this flow be setup and how will this affect conversion?

With these considerations in mind your organization can elegantly implement Apple Pay to improve the user’s payment experience by reducing friction, resulting in overall increased affinity and sales.

Please feel free to comment with any questions about Apple Pay or mobile payments!

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Phono Image610 239 8100