Apple Pay now supports higher value transactions at most UK contactless tills

If the UK’s £30 contactless payment limit was holding back greater adoption of Apple’s biometric contactless payment tech, Apple Pay, the company should expect to see uplift in usage as it believes that a majority of UK contactless POS now supports limitless transactions.

The Telegraph quotes Jennifer Bailey, head of Apple’s payments business, asserting that half of contactless payment terminals in the UK are able to take Apple Pay transactions of any value.

Previously most contactless card readers had been restricted to £30 — aka, the default upper limit for contactless card transactions.

“We think the majority of the contactless terminals [in the UK] are now limitless,” she said yesterday. Retailers supporting the higher value payments are said to include supermarkets such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and restaurants such as Pizza Express and Nando’s.

Apple says use of Apple Pay has grown 300 per cent in the UK in the last year, with 23 banks now supporting the service. Although it’s apparently not breaking out any hard user numbers yet.

The removal of the transaction cap in the UK from the majority of contactless POS terminals — which requires them to be upgraded — is relevant given that UK consumers have had access to contactless bank cards for multiple years, denting the utility of Apple Pay, as shoppers have long been able to just tap a debit or credit card on a contactless POS to make a payment.

When Apple launched Apple Pay in the UK in 2015 payments made via the tech were also capped at £30 — despite it having an additional security layer in the form of a fingerprint biometric.

Apple is evidently now hoping that majority POS support for limitless transactions will start to generate more momentum for its payment tech.

Albeit, from the consumer’s point of view, with no easy way to know for sure ahead of time whether a POS will accept higher value transactions there’s still no clear cut incentive to rely on paying more expensive bills via Apple Pay. At least not until all tills have been upgraded.

Also worth noting here: traditional payments firms are not sitting idly by waiting for Apple to eat their lunch with its own commission-charging payments service. For example, MasterCard is currently trialling bank cards with embedded fingerprint readers, and has plans to combine fingerprint readers and contactless bank cards — thereby working to squeeze the hardware differentiator for Apple Pay.

Still, Apple is forging ahead — and last week launched the contactless payment service in Italy, its sixteenth market for Apple Pay.