Apple Pay is widely expected to arrive in the UK on July 14 according to information from a number of retailers, reported 9to5Mac.
The move confirms Apple's announcement in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that the UK would become the second market after the U.S. to be able to use the NFC-based contactless payment service. Canada is expected to be next in line later this year.
Apple Pay was first unveiled with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last year, and is set to compete with existing contactless payment services. It's becoming a crowded market, with services such as Android Pay also in the pipeline. Mobile operators in the UK already provide their own mobile payment services: Vodafone UK has the Vodafone Wallet service, EE offers Cash on Tap and O2 UK also recently took over the Weve payments joint venture.
The Verge noted that Apple Pay would be available at 250,000 payment terminals across the country at launch. The online news site added that banks including HSBC, Santander, NatWest, Nationwide, First Direct, and others have already signed up, and Apple Pay will also work on the London transport system. Transactions will initially be limited to £20 (€28/$31) or less.
The UK is an obvious target market for Apple Pay as the country is already very familiar with the concept of contactless payments--not least thanks to the early introduction of contactless payment cards on the London Underground.
According to data from Visa Europe reported by the Telegraph, the UK has more contactless cards than any other country in Europe at 49.6 million cards.
Visa Europe noted that this is more than twice the number of cards in second-placed France, which has 20.3 million. Poland is in third place with 14.5 million, followed by Spain with 11.5 million.
"The popularity of contactless will only increase in future as we experience the next generation of digital payments, where the simplicity and convenience is extended to mobile and wearable near field communications technology," said Visa Europe's Sandra Alzetta, the Telegraph reported
The credit card company also said that said contactless payment cards were used more than 1 billion times in the past 12 months in Europe. A total of €12.6 billion ($13.9 billion) was spent over the year, with €1.6 billion of that in March.
Apple pushed to drop transaction fees from Apple Pay
Ovum: Google Pay 'not a game changer' for mobile payments
O2 UK buys mobile payments venture Weve from Vodafone UK and EE
Oxygen8 research reveals strong demand for mobile payments in UK
Vodafone adds card payments to its NFC wallet