Amex card members first to get Apple Pay

Updated at 6.20pm

American Express card members from today (April 19), will be the first in Singapore to use their latest Apple devices to pay for coffee at Starbucks, buy movie tickets at Shaw theatres, make purchases at Fairprice supermarkets and pay for other things at various stores.

The card company is the exclusive partner for Apple as it rolls out its Apple Pay contactless payment system here. Starting today,  StarHub customers can also use Apple Pay to pay at the telco's outlets.

Over the next few months, cards issued by Visa, UOB, Stanchart and DBS will be added to Apple Pay ecosystem.

How to use it:

Apple conducted a demo earlier today. Using Apple Pay is simple. Only the latest Apple devices have Apple Pay capability. This includes iPhone SE, 6 and 6 Plus; iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 and 4.

To activate Apple Pay on the iPhone 6, go to Apple Wallet and add a credit card by taking a photo of it.

To enable Apple Pay on the Apple Watch, go to the iPhone Watch tab.

Tab Wallet and Apple Pay and add a card. Then you are all set.

To start using Apple Pay at the shops, look for the contactless payment readers that have the Apple Pay or the American Express logos. Once the cashier keys in the product, just put your device close to the reader and your transaction is paid.

The biggest advantage of Apple Pay is its security and privacy. The transaction is secure because the the actual card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. Instead a unique device account number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in a special chip called Secure Element which has been built into the mobile devices.

Each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique dynamic security code, added the statement.

Apple is a late comer to online payments. Samsung Pay and Android Pay is already available in Singapore but adoption is not widespread.

Forrester senior analyst Clement Teo told AsiaOne consumer adoption of Apple Pay will depend on customer experience and how easy, effective and enjoyable it is to use it."

Apple Pay is a strong alternative to the Android payment ecosystem which has no strong adoption here yet, he added.

"Apple Pay increases the number of use cases for payments, offers a less fragmented operating system ecosystem and enlarges the pool of players like the credit card companies in the payments ecosystems.

"While it may not be the standard, it will be a major one for mobile payments especially with the growing adoption of wearables like the Apple Watch," he said.

Card members with a personal or corporate card issued directly by American Express will be able to use Apple Pay at stores where American Express contactless payments are accepted.

Amex Singapore country manager Cheng Heng Chew said the card company wants to "give card members the flexibility to pay the way they want to, which is increasingly through mobile devices".

Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to offer Apple Pay. China launched it February this year. In the US where it became available in late 2014, Apple Pay is accepted at more than two million locations and accounts for 98 per cent of all credit card purchase volume in the US.

The mobile payment system was first announced in September 2014 at an Apple event in San Francisco.

Grace Chng is a senior correspondent with The Straits Times and an observer and user of Apple for more than three decades.