Apple Pay may land in Canada on Tuesday, but only for American Express cardholders.
Apple Pay may land in a third country as soon as Tuesday.
Customer service representatives from American Express, which is partnering with Apple for the new launch, told blog site iPhone in Canada that the service is scheduled to take off there Tuesday. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Pay would become available to American Express customers in Canada and Australia later this year.
Apple Pay debuted in the US last fall as the company’s first effort at contactless mobile payments. Using an iPhone 6 or higher or an Apple Watch, people can pay for items on the go at supported retailers via NFC (near-field communication) technology. Owners of the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 and iPad Mini 4 can also make in-app purchases using Apple Pay.
Apple has been drumming up support for its payments services among more banks and retailers in the US. But to gain a greater foothold, Apple Pay needs to expand globally, especially as rival services such as Samsung Pay and Google’s Android Pay ramp up.
Apple has purportedly bumped into trouble trying to convince the necessary players in other countries to adopt the payments service. The problem generally rests with the fee that the company collects for each transaction. In the US, Apple reportedly gets a 0.15 percent cut for each credit card transaction conducted through Apple Pay. But banks in other countries such as China and Australia have allegedly balked at the fee.
In April, Apple had reportedly been speaking with Canada’s six largest banks about a November rollout of Apple Pay, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal at the time. But to gain entry into Canada, Apple has had to bypass those banks as well as the other major credit card companies because “negotiations were dragging,” sources told Canadian news site The Globe and Mail.
American Express represents only a small percentage of credit card transactions in Canada. No Canadian bank offers American Express cards, The Globe and Mail said. Apple therefore altered its strategy to deal with Amex directly to get its foot in the door in Canada.
Following launches in Canada and then in Australia, the service is due to roll out to Amex cardholders in Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016.
Neither Apple nor American Express responded to CNET’s request for comment.