(Pocket-lint) - Apple Pay is coming to the UK in July, and while it's been available in the US for some time, Pocket-lint wanted to find out first hand what it is like to use your phone, or watch, to buy things in store rather than your cards.
And so who better to show us how to do that than Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President, Internet Software and Services.
Debuting in the US in October 2014, Apple Pay allows you to load your bank cards onto your phone in a virtual wallet to then pay for things by placing your phone on the payment terminal at the counter, like you do a contactless card. As we mentioned, it is coming to the UK in July and it is being supported by numerous banks and retailers from launch. Participating banks include HSBC, Natwest, American Express and Nationwide, while stores include Argos, Topshop, Boots, and Costa among others.
We start our San Francisco shopping trip in Walgreens, the US equivalent of Boots in the UK, and in fact the parent company of Boots since December 2014. The company has embraced Apple Pay wholehearted with every cashier able to take contactless payments. It will be the same in the UK when Apple Pay launches in July, and Boots has confirmed to Pocket-lint that payments will be limitless from November.
The Apple exec buys us a water while a spokesman for Boots explains to us that since the introduction of Apple Pay in store queues have become shorter and made things much easier for customers. Our experience is certainly quick, so quick in fact that we have to encourage Cue to buy another water so we can see what happened.
As we walk to the next venue we ask Cue what he uses Apple Pay for and whether it has changed his shopping habits.
The response is as expected, with Cue anecdotally explaining how it has of course made things easier for him and how the watch has made it really easy to pay for things in a McDonald's drive through as he can simply reach out his arm. He also explains how it's even ever so slightly forced him to change his shopping habits, opting for stores that support Apple Pay over ones that don't - CVS he's looking at you.
The next stop on our trip is a local store with a range of produce and a wide variety of exotic drinks. In this part of San Francisco lots of retailers have signed up to contactless, and Apple and Cue are keen to show us the depth and breath of the stores that are accepting the new payment system. This isn't just the mega-Walgreens of this world, but mum and pop shops too.
Another drink later we head to a Peats coffee shop - yes we really think Apple are trying to drown us at this point. Here over a macchiato coffee, a Peats spokeswomen tells us that while all payments haven't yet gone contactless, it is certainly growing with them seeing about 50 payments a week per store via Apple Pay.
America is only just embracing contactless payments, and is way behind in terms of adoption compared to the UK. For the majority of US shoppers, they are still expected to sign their name when it comes to paying for their goods in store, so embracing Apple Pay is not only about learning that you need to use your phone, but also about using contactless payment as well.
It is not something Cue is expecting to be the same in the UK. The country already has a high adoption rate of contactless payments, punctuated even more when you take into account the small size of the UK compared to the US. When Apple Pay launches in the UK, it will come with over 250,000 retail outlets ready to go. That's a quarter of the US figure.
A water, strange drink, and now coffee later, we move on to a card and gift shop.
Cue buys Pocket-lint a notebook that simply says "None of your Damn Business" on it using his Apple Watch. It's the first time even the store clerk has seen the watch in action and everyone watching seems excited about the fact that Apple's VP has paid with something via his wrist.
Like the phone, the watch experience is very quick. You double press the "friends" button on the watch and then your default payment card appears for you to tap against the pay terminal. You can just tap and pay there and then, or you can opt to pick another card by swiping left and right through your virtual wallet.
It does highlight the need for stores to make sure the terminal is easy to get to, however. A small contortion of his arm later and we are done heading off to our final destination.
It's a liquor store. Here we buy some Japanese beer, Cue's favourite, and while the payment seems to go through easily, it highlights one of the potential fears by some retailers in the US about contactless and the battle Apple and the banks have to convince them otherwise.
You see Cue has to sign for the transaction as well as use the Apple Pay method, something the off-licence has insisted on as an extra layer of security.
It's a strange move from the store and one that we suspect will disappear quickly over time as more and more stores get used to contactless and the fact that it's far safer than a signature that is easily copied or rarely checked. Ironically, the store clerk didn't even check the signature anyway.
Our shopping excursion comes to an end and we've seen just how easy it is to pay with your phone, or watch.
For the millions of UK Apple iPhone users, Apple Pay looks to be a no brainer, especially if you are one of those people that checks their phone while the wait for a cashier.
Of course there are some worries, mainly what happens when the battery runs out on your phone or when you come to pay for something that is over £20, that means we won't be ditching our wallets just yet, but if our shopping trip with Eddy Cue is anything to go by, shopping on your phone is going to be very easy.