It’s been a year since the launch of Apple Pay in Germany, and significantly more consumers are now able to use the mobile payment service than ever before.
On Tuesday, 371 out of a a total of 379 Germans savings banks made the service available for a total of 50 million customers.
Commerzbank, Norisbank, and LBBW (Landesbank Baden-Württemberg) are among the banks now offering the use of the service to their clients.
Integration of popular girocard system still in the works
As is typical for German banks, only credit cards and debit cards issued by the banks themselves can be integrated into the service.
A system which uses the very popular girocard, previously known as the EC card, is still in the works. This interbank network and debit card service connects virtually all German ATMs and banks.
The logo of the popular girocard brand, formerly know as EC-Karte. Photo: DPA.
Jennifer Bailey, the head of Apple Pay, said that the service will be integrated into the girocard system in the coming year.
Apple Pay allows customers to pay using the iPhone or Apple Watch as if they were using a contactless card. The payment method also applies for internet purchases.
Users are able to unlock and approve the transactions through face identification or fingerprint scanning technology. Bailey emphasized that this technology ensures that the fraud rate is virtually zero with Apple Pay.
Contactless payment at the cash register relies on the NFC chip technology. NFC stands for “near-field communication,” and works by allowing various devices equipped with the technology to exchange data. Apple's Jennifer Bailey gives a presentation about Apple Pay in Cupertino, CA earlier this year. Photo: DPA.
It is especially secure due to the fact that communication between devices is only possible within about 10 centimeters.
The banks can only access the NFC via use of Apple Pay, due to Apple’s possession of the special high-security chip within their devices called the “Secure Element.”
German regulation challenges Apple’s dominance
Germany passed a law in late November that requires platform operators such as Apple to provide financial services, such as banks who use their technology, full access to the infrastructure, such as the NFC, which makes the system work in exchange for a small fee.
The law ensures that Apple’s rivals in the mobile payment market would still have access to the technology that makes it work.
The regulation is just one part of recent actions in Germany to regulate US technology companies and their market dominance.
Commerzbank was one of the banks to adopt the Apple Pay service recently. Photo: DPA.
Apple criticized the law but feels confident overall about accommodating it from a legal perspective. The company emphasized that it already provides access to the NFC chip infrastructure to financial service providers, thus meeting the requirements of the law.
“When a card is added to the Apple Wallet, banks can decide whether to use it to trigger secure payments from their own apps via NFC. No new law is necessary for that,” the statement said.
Banks ‘voting with their actions’
“Banks are voting with their actions by working with us on Apple Pay,” Bailey said of the bill, in regards to the latest additions and the development of a girocard solution. Apple’s system is still the safest way to pay with the iPhone.
“The only way to the NFC chip today is via Apple Pay,” Bailey said, expressing concern that any other system would jeopardize user data and security.