Apple Pay, American Express: Match Made In Heaven

If you're one of the one in five people in Australia that has an American Express credit card, you're able to use your rectangular slice of plastic in a very high tech way: you can use it with Apple Pay. And it works very, very well. Apple Pay is still in its infancy in Australia, but already I've learned to love it.

Part of the wonderful ease of use of Apple Pay is Apple's secret sauce that goes into the interface, and part of it is from American Express. Put the two together, and it's far and away the best contactless payment system that I've used so far -- better than any Android payment app, although I'm reserving my full judgment until I give Samsung Pay -- for which I am quite excited, and which will hopefully launch in Australia within the next couple of months -- a proper go. Apple has got this one right.

The Apple part is definitely the most visible; it's the actual interface of the Pay system, which doesn't even need any interaction from the user to make a purchase -- just hold your iPhone, even locked and with the screen off, over a ready NFC payment terminal at a retailer that accepts American Express contactless payments, and use Touch ID. It's very simple, it works consistently, and it's not an obstruction to the process of actually buying something.

You don't have to unlock your phone manually, like Android Pay or many Android contactless payment apps, but if you do want to view your Apple Pay wallet, it's equally straightforward -- just two taps of the iPhone home button from a powered down screen, while Touch ID does its work, and you're ready to go. Even if you're buying something online, you can use Apple Pay at an eligible retailer like Kogan or compatible apps like Catch Of The Day -- that's where Touch ID comes in handy even moreso, with no annoying passworded logins or long, complicated credit card number strings to input.

But equally good is the way that the American Express half of the system works -- you can see every payment as it's made, with every data point that the credit card provider captures it ties in to the equally excellent Amex app if you already have it installed on your phone, too, giving you direct access to historical statements or American Express offers. When a payment has been made -- either on your card, online using your account, or on Apple Pay -- you'll get a notification popping up on your lock screen to tell you about it.

And the amount of detail is extreme -- you'll know what store and where the payment was made including the country and postcode, the category of purchase, how much you paid, and a reference number to start a dispute if you didn't actually make the payment yourself. It's great. And it's easy to use. And it, like every other part of Apple Pay, doesn't actually get in the way of actually buying stuff just as easily as you would with your actual card.

Apple Pay does have a long way to go, of course, and the biggest hurdle is adding Visa and Mastercard credit cards and more Aussie banks and providers to its wallet in Australia. If and when that happens, I think Apple Pay will really take off. Right now, I feel like a special member of an elite club, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.



    Wife has it on her David Jones AMEX, it works well most of the time, but occasionally just doesn't work. Unfortunately for her, the times it hasn't worked is when she's felt confident enough to leave the physical card at home.

    Also apple watch, lol, worst way to use apple pay, unless you enjoy twisting your wrist awkwardly to put the screen flat on the paypass terminal. You also have to be quite quick it seems, as it's powerful enough to give the terminal a hit from a distance, but always seems to fail unless it's very close when read.

      Got Android pay and pretty same thing, its been working flawlessly when i have used it. Although am still hesitant to solely rely on it, as one place it didn't work with the phone but when i waved my card linked to same account it worked so possibly the machine didn't like the phone or something.

    Maybe I am odd/old, but I don’t get these phone payment systems. I understand it for the US where their cards are only just starting to have chips, but here, we have had tap and go for ages. I guess for many people the phone is more at hand than the credit card itself, so that is a benefit. Apples no need to do anything than hold the phone is good, as soon as you need to unlock or open an app then it becomes far harder than just waiving your card.
    The online part is of course a bonus if you shop with your mobile device, but with Android you can have apps like LastPass fill in all details anyway. Personally I can see no need to use it, so I am not lamenting my banks decision to not give Apple their transaction money for no good reason.

      If I could have a wallet that only contained a smart licence linked to all my government services (medicare, etc), some sort of universal transport card (Australia wide) and some sort of bank card, I'd be happy. I see some people with 30+ cards on them at all times.

        Problem with universal chip is that you never know what data they can be scanning... coles might be scaning you medibank data etc
        so there is that :)

          Why would I swipe my licence/govtcard at coles would be my question there? I wouldn't want it rolled into my bank card.

        I'm one of those people with a stupid amount of cards :( why I have 2 wallets. A normal one and then a work on that has all my other cards in it.

          Yeah, I tend to see this a lot. I'm the complete opposite with my wallet. I usually only have my bank's card, an Amex & Visa card linked, two loyalty cards and two licences. I never keep any silvers in it and only a few at most golds. My Moto X is not a big phone but my wallet is probably close to the same size, so for me, paywave is no hassle.
          On the Amex app on iOS, I haven't used it since I've had an iOS device, which is a couple years now but it was always great for me back then too.

      My thought is that it means having to take less in your wallet.
      If licenses go electronic, phone payment systems take off and I can get electronic coffee cards the only thing I would need my wallet for is money. :)

    I would argue from a security perspective. Your card is tokenised per transaction unbeknownst to the user. If the set of tokens are compromised, they would be invalidated and issued new tokens. No need for a new Amex card issued with a different set of 15 digits.

    But for me, I enjoy being able to walk out the door and knowing that my phone or watch can pay some of my contactless transactions.

    But there are times where I look like a massive douche, trying to pay with my watch only for me to have to reach out for my Visa credit card instead from my wallet, or abandon the transaction and walk off because I didn't bring my wallet during my run ...

    I love it, used it a bit last year with my UK bank account. Hopefully it will roll out more in Australia. Didn't get to experiment with online payments which is what I was most excited about when Apple Pay was announced.

    However I was slightly concerned when my phone re-appeared from the airport x-ray scanner asking me to pay with Touch ID??

    yeh but NO ONE ACCEPTS AMEX!

      Not true -- *almost* everywhere I shop has it. Not smaller convenience stores, but cafes and Coles and McDonald's and other fast food places...

        My problem is most of my paypass transactions are at those locations that don't accept amex, like cafe's, convenience stores, etc, so it's not really worth having one if you need two cards anyway.

    "better than any Android payment app" - Please tell me how and why? Also, who uses apple pay in Australia seriously? Oh and Apple is a little bit late in the game, I've been using pay(wave/pass) on Android for quite some time now, with my AMEX card too!

      Well, with my CUA Android app, I have to load the app for it to work. That's a pretty big negative IMO.

        @Campbell You definitely should reserve your judgement until both Samsung Pay and Android Pay are released in the next month or two. They're much closer to "equivalent" implementations of contactless phone payments.

        To date, all of the 3rd-party implementations for phone tap and pay have been apps developed by banks, and to their credit they were way ahead of the curve in getting this technology to consumers, long before Apple was on the scene.

        But as you say, their implementation is on an app level and they can't get their claws as deem into the OS like Apple has been able to do with a native core app. Which is why Android Pay (and to a slightly lesser extent, Samsung Pay) will be a much smoother experience.

        I'm just pleased that both of my regular banks have supported Tap and Pay for over a year, and are going to support Android Pay. There's no way I could be bothered to get a special Amex card just so I could enable phone payments.

    Sorry but three em dashes in one sentence make this a travesty.

    Put the two together, and it’s far and away the best contactless payment system that I’ve used so far — better than any Android payment app, although I’m reserving my full judgment until I give Samsung Pay — for which I am quite excited, and which will hopefully launch in Australia within the next couple of months — a proper go.

      You're right about it being a travesty -- terrible writing is my stock in trade -- and I just want to tell you that your comments have been taken on board -- but I probably won't change -- not yet, at least. :)

    The only people that have done it right in Australia, is westpac and comm bank that use Samsung and nexus phones. Use them anywhere and never have to unlock phone to use. I only ever bring out my card where I need to buy something over a hundred dollars. Other than that, it's always my phone.

    Really wish the Australian banks would stop being asshats and allow us to use Apple Pay. :(

    Call me whatever you like; but the idea that your card is so easily accessed gives me the creeps. Two or three extra steps of unlocking your phone/opening in an app gives me a little bit more peace of mind.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now