UK Apple Pay won’t require PIN but £20 contactless transaction limit does apply … for now


Apple Pay is going international starting with the United Kingdom next month. The precise nature of how Apple Pay will work in the UK has been murky, with banks saying different things. Apple has now posted a FAQ to explain the situation.

Apple Pay will work with any current contactless reader. By default, it uses the same technology as other UK contactless cards. This means that performing an Apple Pay purchase will not require a PIN (as is standard with UK Chip and PIN payments). However, the usual £20 limit on contactless transactions does apply … for the time being. When Apple Pay launches in July, almost all merchants will only allow Apple Pay purchases up to £20 …

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From September, this limit rises to £30 for all contactless transactions  — including Apple Pay. This means that Apple Pay users will benefit from an increased limit on purchases.

It had been hoped that this limit would not apply at all, as Touch ID offers arguably the same or better authentication than a four-digit code does, but this is not the case without upgrades to hardware from merchants. If retailers adopt readers that support a technology called ‘Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method’.

This requires new payment processors, so will have to be adopted slowly by merchants and shops over time, but enables the contactless payments to go through taking into account the Touch ID verification. As such, transactions can exceed the normal £20/£30 limits without requiring a PIN or signature. No additional action is needed by consumers for this feature — it simply requires the merchants to use new payment terminals.

Apple Pay launches in the UK in July and is compatible with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. All major UK banks have signed up to support Apple Pay in the UK apart from Barclays — which is yet to agree a deal with Apple.

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  1. Stuart Denton - 8 years ago

    Reblogged this on Reviews, Commentary & Opinion and commented:
    I am very much looking forward to using and testing Apple Pay when it launches here in the UK next month.

  2. rogifan - 8 years ago

    So if your purchase is more than £20 you can’t use Pay? That’s crap.

    • Quinn (@quinn_drummer) - 8 years ago

      Same as all contactless payments here in the UK. It’s not really as bad as it sounds. Most day to day purchases are less than £20, a sandwich here, coffee there etc. I very rarely find myself paying more than £20 most of the time … in fact, if I am, it’s usually an online purchase anyway.

      Of course it doesn’t mean we can leave our cards at home, for those times there are purchases over £20. However, given there are still a few shops around that don’t accept contactless it would have been necessary to carry it anyway.

      • Somodi Krisztian - 8 years ago

        Agree, I buy most of the expensive stuff online anyway

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

        Maybe contactless is common in the big cities, but elsewhere… it’s a rarity. None of my local shops support it, not in Asda, Tesco, or Sainsburys, and they’re all huge supermarkets. Local shops don’t support it either. Come to think of it, the only place where I can use contactless is the post office.

    • completely agree, they want us to leave our wallet at home but with this limitations, it’s just not happening

    • The FAQ *actually* says “To accept Apple Pay for transactions over £20, your payment terminal must be capable and configured properly, and your payment provider needs to support the latest network contactless specifications.”

  3. GadgetBen - 8 years ago

    Once again the UK lagging behind the rest of the world. Like I said before, we still have massive retailer chains that don’t even have wireless terminals yet. I can pop into some corner shops and pay wirelessly by card, but then big stores like Sainsburys Supermarket? No. Quite a lot of our multinational UK stores don’t even have the basic requirement for Apple Pay, then to ask these big retailers to implement even newer payment processors with ‘Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method’ terminals……! It means that we are stuck with the £30 limit for a few years….

    • joshblinney - 8 years ago

      Actually UK is far in front America for Apple Pay. Asda. Tesco morisons. I’ve been to places where you wouldn’t think of such a thing in the UK and they have them. The limit has been here all long and yeah everyone still Carries there card around even if there wasn’t a limit that is until your phone is your card. UK has twice the amount USA has because they are still on swipe method. U.S. Hasn’t even got chip and pin

    • Harry Moy (@HarryMoy) - 8 years ago

      Sainsbury’s is planning on bringing wireless terminals to stores by the year’s end (source: I work there part-time)

    • Jim Witte - 8 years ago

      Hasn’t Europe had chip cards for some time now, that people in the US are saying would cut down on credit-card fraud as they’d require something more than just a magnetic-strip routing-account-number and a (relatively) simple PIN?

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

        We’ve had chip and PIN cards in the UK for many, many years now. I’d guess 10 years or so.

      • AbsarokaSheriff - 8 years ago

        Yes, Europe and non-US has had the EMV (Euro Master Visa) Chip and PIN protocol for many years. It does considerably cut down on credit-card fraud because the data on the card is encrypted. But there are still vulnerabilities with store databases that can be hacked and even EMV terminals that have been hacked just with considerably more effort and much more local scale than magnetic stripe.

        The beauty of tokenization and Device Account # used by Apple Pay is that each token is only one time use. So even if intercepted it can be useless. Using the Device Account # prevents primary account # from being redistributed such as online and is unique to each device, Apple Phone or Watch. Android Pay & Samsung Pay are using the same strategies because they work.

        There is still an issue with open-tokens. For instance, if you open up a bar-tab you run your credit card. For an Apple Pay equivalent, that token would be live and could be used elsewhere.

        So Tokenization/Device Account # (Apple Pay) > Chip and PIN > Magnetic Stripe in my opinion from a security perspective.

      • GadgetBen - 8 years ago

        Yes they have. Pin does work well but the problem is that criminals can buy machines or attachments that read your pin input and card number. A rogue employee in a quiet shop could easily figure out ways to steal your card info.

  4. This article is slightly misleading. That’s not really what the FAQ says. From the FAQ: “That’s not really what the FAQ says. From the FAQ: “Apple Pay allows your customers to make easy and secure contactless payments at any amount. If your payment terminal or payment provider doesn’t support the latest network specifications, as with contactless debit and credit cards today, your customers might need to insert their card if the transaction amount is over £20. To accept Apple Pay for transactions over £20, your payment terminal must be capable and configured properly, and your payment provider needs to support the latest network contactless specifications. “

  5. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

    The lack of Barclays and the £20 limit makes this dead on arrival in the UK. Why would I bother to take my phone out and wait for the sluggish Touch ID to attempt to read my finger print when I could just use the contactless credit card I’ve had for many years?

  6. tomtubbs - 8 years ago

    So this only affects in store Apple Pay payments?
    So in app purchases with Apple Pay are unaffected?
    Seems one way to circumvent the issue is then to allow users to use the store app to buy product (ala Top Table app being able to be used to pay the bill).

    • AbsarokaSheriff - 8 years ago

      In app purchases, as far as has been reported, won’t be affected by the limitation.

      In the US, I buy Target ( a large retailer) merchandise with the App and pick it up in the stores or ship it.

      The only limitation to this is picking up perishable goods.

      I agree with you that merchants will quickly adopt their apps to pay. You know they have a phone and/or a watch.

      With StarBucks they have a QR Code for payment but I reload with Apple Pay. That capability should work in the UK too but I think StarBucks is committed to in-house payment with Apple Pay as well.

  7. I’m sure the Apple Stores will have upgraded their ’tills’ to accept higher amounts ?

  8. Jamie Gilder - 8 years ago

    A lot of people are complaining about big box stores here in the UK that don’t accept Contactless.
    That’s probably *because* of the £20 limit imposed. – If you’re doing a ‘weekly big shop’ the chances are that it’s going to be over £20. Heck; even over £30 when that comes in September.

    The only place I’ve noticed that have them are the self-service checkouts in supermarket, and that’s probably because you only have a few items.

  9. Sophia Terris - 8 years ago

    Apple Pay landed in the UK. Need to give a try tap-and-pay. It’s good that the card details aren’t stored on the device, just a device-specific token and a cryptogram generated per transaction.


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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.