Apple Pay has gone live in the UK today, nine months after the mobile payments service first launched in the US.

  • Apple Pay allows in-store contactless payments using NFC technology
  • The service first launched in the US last autumn
  • HSBC, RBS, Santander and Nationwide are offering the service through MasterCard and Visa

Credit card firms MasterCard and Visa are now offering their UK cardholders access to the mobile payments service.

Shoppers who own an iPhone 6 and Apple Watch will be able to make in-store contactless payments using their device in more than 250,000 shops in the UK.

Apple Pay will also allow consumers to pay online for goods within apps using an iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

UK retailers to have signed up to Apple Pay for today’s launch include Marks & Spencer, Boots, JD Sports, Liberty, Lidl, New Look, Spar and Waitrose.

The Apple Pay service launched in the US last autumn and Apple boss Tim Cook claims that it got off to a “strong start” and within months accounted for two thirds of US contactless payments.

However, contactless payment methods are significantly widespread in the US than in the UK so it is unlikely Apple Pay will grab such a large share of the UK contactless pay market so quickly.

MasterCard UK & Ireland president Mark Barnett said: “Innovation in UK payments means it’s fast becoming the most advanced market in the world and the arrival of Apple Pay heralds this new era.

“We will see more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50, bringing even more convenience and security for consumers.”

In the UK the service is initially open to MasterCard cardholders who bank with HSBC, RBS, Natwest, MBNA and Santander, plus Visa cardholders who bank with RBS, MBNA, Nationwide and Santander. Visa added that customers from Lloyds, HSBC and TSB will be able to use the service in the coming months.

But millions of customers with accounts at HSBC, First Direct, Barclays, Lloys and Halifax found themselves unable to use the service as Apple Pay went live on Tuesday.