Apple Pay Is Here

Apple released its virtual mobile wallet, Apple Pay. It allows you to buy things at participating stores with the tap of one of the new iPhones – the Apple 6 or 6 Plus.

To use Apple Pay, you take a picture of your credit cards and add them to the iPhone’s Passbook. You can also add credit cards through your iTunes account.

But the actual card numbers aren’t stored on the phone or with Apple. Apple Pay creates “dummy” account numbers for each transaction. So if a hacker gets to it, that number is useless. Also, no one ever gets a look at your name, your real card number, or your card security code.

So is Apple Pay a safer way to pay? Consumer Reports says it could be. Payment security experts say that compared with physical credit cards, mobile technology could be a safer option.

So far more than 200,000 stores are equipped to accept Apple Pay, including McDonald’s, Macy’s, Subway, and Sports Authority. An icon at the register tells you that it uses NFC, the technology needed to make the transaction.

Other mobile wallets already on the market include Google Wallet and Softcard. They also use NFC technology. Merchants have been slow to switch over to NFC readers, so those systems haven’t really taken off. But Consumer Reports says that may change now that Apple is on board.

Also, merchants are supposed to update their card readers by the end of 2015 to accept a new type of more secure credit card. Those readers can also be made compatible with NFC technology. And that could make it much easier to find stores where you can pay with your smart phone.

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