Apple Pay is the way to pay if you're an iPhone user

"Apple Pay?" I asked the FairPrice cashier. She pointed to the Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless payment reader.

I whipped out my iPhone 6s Plus and, with my thumb on the Touch ID sensor, moved it close to the reader. A split-second and a confirmation beep later, I had paid for my groceries.

"So convenient hor? You will always bring your phone with you, but not your credit card," said the cashier as she passed me the receipt.

Her comments pretty much sum up the convenience of Apple Pay.

Launched last Tuesday, Apple's mobile payment service currently works only with American Express (Amex) credit cards. Bank-issued Amex cards are not supported.

Other than at Uniqlo, iPhone users can use Apple Pay to make their purchases at Starbucks and FairPrice supermarkets.
Other than at Uniqlo, iPhone users can use Apple Pay to make their purchases at Starbucks and FairPrice supermarkets. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Visa cards issued by DBS, UOB and Standard Chartered will be supported "soon", Apple said.

The service works with Apple devices that have the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and that run on iOS 9.1 or later. They include the iPhone SE, iPhone 6 and iPad Pro. The service also works withApple Watches running on watchOS 2.1 or later. But iPads cannot be used in stores, only for payment in apps that support Apple Pay.

I have eagerly awaited Apple Pay's arrival in Singapore. Having read - and written - about it in the past few months, I was convinced it would be a hit. And this past week of tapping away with my iPhone has only stoked my bullishness.

First, there is the sheer convenience. I found I could still use the NTUC Plus! reward card to collect loyalty points at FairPrice supermarkets while paying with Apple Pay.

Using it to pay for my caffeine fix at Starbucks couldn't be easier. But I do need to finish up the credits on my Starbucks app first, since I can't use both at the same time.

Using my Apple Watch to pay for pants at Uniqlo was really smooth - and drew many curious glances.

Other supported stores include Din Tai Fung, G2000, TopShop, StarHub and Shaw Theatres.

Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and Guardian, and supermarkets such as Cold Storage, Giant and Sheng Siong are not supported at the moment, but the service is coming soon.

SPC petrol stations, which I frequent, do not support Apple Pay. Strange, considering I can use my Amex card on their readers.

Second, Apple Pay was a cinch to set up. To add a credit card, start the Wallet app. Scan the card with the app using the iPhone camera and type in the card's security code.

You will be prompted to choose whether to get a verification code through SMS or e-mail. Entering this one-time verification code completes the process.

For Apple Watch, go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select the Wallet & Apple Pay option. Follow the steps above.

Once the card is added, paying for goods and services is a simple process - just tap your iPhone on the reader as I did at the FairPrice outlet.

You do not need to start the Wallet app or wake the iPhone's display. For the Apple Watch, double-click the side button and you will see your credit card displayed on the smartwatch. Bring it close to the reader to make payment.

Finally, I'm not too worried about security issues. In fact, I think Apple Pay is more secure than traditional cards, as it uses the fingerprint sensor or needs a passcode.

Furthermore, as per industry standards for contactless payment, each transaction is limited to $100 - not much to lose.

On the other hand, because of the $100 limit, Apple Pay is not going to replace all the credit cards in my wallet. But I can see it replacing most of my physical credit cards when more banks and payment networks come on board.

When that day arrives, I think I will have only one credit card in my wallet - for big purchases. For everything else, Apple Pay will do the trick.

And once more payment networks and banks join the fray, I believe Apple Pay will be the default payment mode for iPhone users.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Apple Pay is the way to pay if you're an iPhone user'. Print Edition | Subscribe