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An iPhone using Apple Pay

All you need to know about contactless cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay

How to use contactless payments on cards, phones and watches


Written by Cian O'Mahony | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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What are contactless cards?

Paying for things has become a lot easier over the past few years with the introduction of contactless bank cards. Previously you had to insert your debit or credit card into the card reader then enter your four digit PIN number and wait for it to finish. Now with contactless cards, you can pay for things just by tapping your card on the card reader anywhere you pay for goods or services.

A contactless card

You can go contactless with transactions under €30 in Ireland. For anything over €30 you will need to insert your card and enter your PIN as you have done before.

Most debit and credit cards in Ireland are being issued with a wireless small symbol which means they can be used for contactless payments.

There are over 20,000 merchants in Ireland accepting contactless payments including Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Supervalu, Centra, Spar, M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Starbucks, An Post, Insomnia, H&M, Subway, Costa, Boots and thousands more.

How do contactless payments work?

Contactless cards work with a technology called “Near Field Communication” (NFC) chips. These chips are embedded in the card and make a small radio connection with the card reader, providing it with encrypted information about your transaction information.

The technology is safe and is being used by almost every bank and shop in the county. If your card is stolen you can immediately cancel it by telephoning your bank. The cards have a limit of €30 per transaction and most banks will pause the card if too many transactions are made too quickly in case it has been stolen.

How do I get a contactless card?

Over 3 million cards in Ireland are contactless cards, so it is very likely your debit or credit card is already contactless. If you don’t have a card yet you can get in contact with your bank to see if they can send you a card.

What is Apple Pay?

An iPhone and Apple Watch running apple pay

Apple Pay is Apple’s solution to mobile payments. It was created in 2014 and launched in Ireland in March 2017. You can use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay for things in the same way you would use a contactless card. You can also use Apple Pay within apps to pay for items or even use it on your Mac to purchase things online. You can set up your card by scanning it into the Wallet app, then your bank will text you a confirmation code to complete the setup process.

To use your phone or watch to pay for an item, just hold it up to the card reader when making a purchase. On the iPhone you will be asked to confirm by entering your fingerprint on the phones home button. On an Apple Watch you just press the lower side button twice and hold the watch to the card reader.

When you make a purchase, Apple Pay uses a device-specific number and unique transaction code. So your card number is never stored on your device or on Apple’s servers, and when you pay, your card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants.

Apple Pay doesn’t keep transaction information that can be tied back to you. Your most recent purchases are kept in Wallet for your convenience, but that’s as far as it goes.

You can use Apple Pay on the following devices:

  • iPhones: 6, 6S, SE, 7, 7S
  • iPads: iPad Air 2, iPad Pro
  • Apple Watches: All models

To check if your bank supports Apple Pay check out the Apple website.

What is Android Pay?

Various phones running Android Pay

Android Pay is the mobile payment system used for Android phones and devices. It was created in 2015 and launched in Ireland in December 2016. You can use your Android Device to pay for things in the same way you would use a contactless card. To start using this service, simply download the Android Pay app from Google Play. Then just add your card from any of the participating banks and you are good to go.

To use your phone or watch to pay for an item, just wake the device and hold it up to the card reader when making a purchase.

When you use your phone to pay in stores, Android Pay doesn’t send your actual credit or debit card number with your payment. Instead it uses a virtual account number to represent your account info – so your card details stay safe and secure.

If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use Android Device Manager to instantly lock it from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or wipe it clean of personal data.

To use Android Pay, your phone will need to have an NFC chip (a lot of Android phones do) and be running Android 4.4 or above. This means about 60% of Android phones will be able to support Android Pay, and almost every phone released in the past few years. You should be able to check the compatibility by downloading the Android Pay app and following the on screen instructions.

To check if your bank supports Android Pay check out the Android website.

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Published March 7th, 2017
Tags online safety iphone android
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