Going out without your wallet or purse is something most of us have done at some time or another. When I did it four or five years ago, it was a complete pain as it was on a Saturday afternoon and no banks were open.
Picture the scene: I’m on my own in the car, call into a gas station to refuel, get to the till and … no wallet. Not the most convenient of times to discover one’s absent-mindedness. Fortunately I have a great bank. I called them, and they gave me an authorization number to give to the gas station attendant, who was able to put the transaction through.
But when I managed to leave my wallet at home on Friday evening, Apple Pay made it a non-event …
I discovered my idiocy when I got to my local train station. But I scarcely missed a beat: just double-clicked the side button on my Apple Watch and all was well.
I was meeting friends in a coffee shop before we went on to a bar later. It was one of the new Starbucks Reserve stores with table service, meaning I only had to settle-up at the end. Again, no drama – they brought over a mobile terminal, I held my Apple Watch against it and that was done.
I did need to rely on friends for the cab ride. Most black cabs in London have contactless card terminals these days, but not this one. However, there were plenty of cabs around, so if needed I could have checked and grabbed one that did.
The bar was the one point at which Apple Pay might have deserted me, as it was a rather upmarket one and we were eating as well as drinking. Many larger chains have done away with payment limits on Apple Pay transactions, but I’m pretty sure that the normal £30 ($45) limit applying to contactless cards in the UK would have applied in the bar.
However, I’m a regular there, and they’d had to move us from our booked table to somewhere else, and very kindly offered us two free bottles of wine by way of apology. So the per-head cost was below the £30 limit, and when the waiter arrived with the mobile terminal, Apple Pay took care of my share of that bill too.
All-in-all, Apple Pay turned what could have been a major hassle into a non-event.
Of course, I recognize that I have the advantage of all of this taking place in London, where contactless payment has been a mainstream thing for years. There are few places in London – even small shops – that don’t have contactless terminals. I’d have had a less happy experience in many places in the States.
But the contactless rollout in the U.S. (and smaller places in the UK) will eventually match that of London. And once the rollout of the service to ATMs becomes widespread, it will become even less of an issue, as we’ll be able to get cash too if needed.
Have you ever had an experience where Apple Pay or your Apple Watch has saved the day? Do let us know in the comments.
Check out the rest of my Apple Watch Diary series, reading from the bottom up.