UPDATE 2-Apple Pay launches in Britain as holdout Barclays signs up

Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:42pm EDT
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* Payments service will be available at 250,000 outlets

* UK tap-and-go payments have surged in recent years

* Apple Pay says Britain could become its biggest market (Adds details regarding lower interchange fees banks pay Apple)

By Eric Auchard

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - Apple introduced its mobile payments service to Britain on Tuesday as Barclays became the last major UK bank to sign up for the U.S. tech giant's effort to capitalise on the increasing comfort among British consumers with making tap-and-go purchases.

A quarter of a million outlets will offer Apple Pay, from London Underground stations to coffee shops, retailers and travel businesses, making it more widely available than when it first launched in the United States last year.

Tap-and-go payments have surged in recent years, with growing acceptance by banks, retailers, credit card issuers and consumers. The tipping point in Britain came with the London Underground's introduction of "contactless" payment methods.

"We actually think that the UK can be our leading market for Apple Pay, given the unique characteristics (of the market)," said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay.

Convenience, as ever, is key and Apple says its new service is even quicker than rival contactless payment options. Set-up is via an Apple app on an iPhone 6 or late-model iPad. Customers use the built-in camera to scan an image of their credit or debit cards and then confirm their details by text message, email or a phone call from their bank.   Continued...