Apple made a promise to its CEO, Tim Cook: before the end of the year Apple Pay will be introduced to the German market. After that, it all went rather quiet because the German banks were having a private argument with the Americans about how income from the venture should be shared. But this month finally saw the German launch of Apple Pay.
In other countries including the UK, France and Kazakhstan, consumers have been able to pay using Apple Pay for a long time already. Germany is the 14th market in Europe where Apple telephone and watch payments have been introduced. In the Netherlands, where the majority of payments made are contactless, Apple Pay has not yet been officially launched, although it is possible to activate the payment system.
Just as in the Netherlands, the German banks have developed their own app for contactless payments via mobile phone, but in Germany it has never really caught on. From statistics released by the German Bundesbank, it seems that less than one in ten Germans have ever made a payment using their smartphone.
A Cash-loving Country
Will the introduction of Apple Pay take the German market by storm? We have yet to see, as Germans are very attached to their cash and most don’t have an iPhone. Nowhere else in Europe do shopkeepers and consumers love their cash so much as here in Germany.
Easily half of all payments are made in cash, according to the Bundesbank’s statistics. Germans still haven’t forgotten the hyperinflation from the nineteen thirties. And because of their “Big Brother” experiences under the German Democratic Republic, they still prefer anonymous payments.
Google’s payment app, Google Pay was launched in Germany last summer, then Paypal formed a partnership with Google Pay a few weeks ago. The extent to which German consumers are using this app is still unknown, but making payments from a mobile phone is still not common practice in the big cities.
Also, Android telephones are much more popular than iPhones in Germany. Only one in five smartphones is an Apple. Apple is now trying to win over the cautious German consumer by introducing extra security measures. Consumers who want to make payments using an Apple phone, also have to be a customer of one of the participating banks.
The introduction of Apple Pay was announced last summer but, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the big German financial institutions were unable to arrive at an agreement about how charges could be made for making payments using a mobile phone. This discussion has now been closed, but it is not yet known which conclusion was drawn.
At the beginning of December the German online bank, Fidor, accidentally announced the arrival of Apple Pay on the German market via Twitter. The tweet was quickly removed.
Deutsche Bank was one of the banks that later sent out a press release with the message that ‘from today’ all their customers could use Apple Pay using their current credit and debit cards ‘without any monthly charge’.
Aldi, H&M, Lidl, MediaMarkt, Shell and Zara are just a few of the companies that are now offering Apple Pay as a payment method. Apple has given a number of banks in Germany permission to use Apple Pay. ING Direct Duitsland won’t start using it until 2019. The Dutch bank, Bunq, is offering it to their German customers.
Apple uses so-called ‘near field communications’ technology (NFC). Shops need to have their own technology in store to be able to accept payments via an NFC-chip. This is the same technology that is used for contactless card payments. But this is something that is still new and as yet uncommon in Germany.
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