I said last summer in my Apple Watch Diary series that Apple Pay arriving in the UK was the tipping point for me in transforming the Watch from a useful device into something I was reluctant to be without. That was confirmed last week when a fraud attempt left me without Apple Pay for a couple of days.
I received a text from my bank asking me to call them as they suspected my card had been compromised. I call them to find that they’d blocked an attempt to use my debit card for a £1200 ($1700) online transaction. As it was for a gadget purchase, I was impressed that they caught it – though perhaps it was the surprise at a large purchase from a non-fruity company …
Having confirmed that I didn’t make the transaction, they put a stop on my card and said they’d send a new one out within a few days. Interestingly, the UK seems to lack one Apple Pay feature the US has …
When I tweeted about it, Zac said that when a similar thing happened to him, his bank automatically updated Apple Pay with the new card details. That’s a nice feature, as it means you can start using the replacement card before the physical piece of plastic arrives in the post.
But it didn’t happen for me: I needed to manually remove the old card and then wait for the new one to arrive before I could add it. I could have added a second card to tide me over, but I decided to use it as an opportunity to see what life was like without Apple Pay now that I was so used to it.
I’ve mentioned before that the UK has had contactless cards since 2008, so in London at least, contactless terminals are literally everywhere – which means Apple Pay is accepted by almost every business, large or small. It’s a surprise to find a retailer that doesn’t offer it; even London’s famous black cabs do.
We do have a transaction limit for contactless cards, but this is high enough to cover most everyday purchases – so my Apple Watch is my normal method of paying for things.
I realized just how habitual it had become to raise my Watch to payment terminals when I tried to pay for a cup of tea in Starbucks. That was very shortly after the call to my bank, and I instinctively just raised my wrist to the terminal. I hadn’t yet removed the old card from Apple Pay, so my Watch pinged and told me I’d paid. The till initially told the cashier the same thing – but then reported that the transaction was declined.
I immediately realized why, of course, and used a second card. In true ‘first world problem’ style, it actually felt like a hassle to have to put down the cup of tea, reach into my wallet, pull out the card, tap it against the terminal, replace it in my wallet and put the wallet back into my pocket.
I had to laugh at myself. This was, after all, something I’ve done from my first ever bank account right up to last July – and here I was feeling like it was a hassle.
Part of it was the fact that Apple Pay didn’t reach the UK until after the launch of the Watch. Most American users will have experienced the halfway house of using their iPhone to make payments, which still requires you to reach into your pocket, but I’d skipped that stage. For me, Apple Pay has always been about simply raising my wrist.
Reverting to digging a piece of plastic out of my pocket felt like returning to the Stone Age. I breathed a sigh of relief when the new card arrived and I was able to revert to the far more civilized habit of simply waving my arm to pay.
As an aside, a friend who is concerned about the security of contactless cards has always refused to use them, insisting on his bank providing the non-contactless variety. Despite his physical cards lacking the contactless payment chip, they still work just fine for Apple Pay, giving the best of both worlds: the convenience of Apple Watch payments without the risk of a contactless card.
As a former skeptic who still wears my Apple Watch every day, it seems a good time to update our poll on whether the Watch has succeeded in becoming an indispensable item for you, or whether the novelty wore off. At the end of last year, 71% of you were still wearing it every day. Please take part in our updated poll and share in comments your reasons for wearing or abandoning it.
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