American Express cards now support Apple Pay in Australia, but only those issued directly by Amex.
Australia is now officially the fourth country to adopt Apple Pay, but it’s got some restrictions.
Apple’s mobile payment service launched Down Under on Thursday for American Express cardholders. Apple Pay debuted just over a year ago in the US before reaching the UK in July and Canada on Tuesday. Using an iPhone 6 or higher or an Apple Watch, Apple Pay lets you purchase items on the go at supported retailers.
Apple Pay’s expansion into Australia opens up a new market for the mobile payment service, which is critical for its success. Apple faces competition from rival services Samsung Pay and Google’s Android Pay, which are also ramping up around the world.
Support for the service in Australia will be limited, though.
American Express is the only credit card company in Australia to hop aboard Apple Pay so far.
Another limitation is that only cards issued directly by American Express will work with Apple Pay. Those issued by Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank are not included. The same limitations are in effect in Canada.
Apple has run into trouble negotiating directly with banks in various countries to adopt Apple Pay. The company takes a cut of 15 cents for every $100 paid through Apple Pay, two people familiar with the terms of the agreement told the Financial Times last year. Banks in certain countries outside the US have balked at such transaction fees. That obstacle has prompted Apple to deal directly with American Express to gain entry into other countries. Apple Pay is due to reach Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2016, but again only for cards issued by American Express.
American Express has a 17 percent market share in credit cards in Australia, with about 6.8 million cards out of 42 million cards in total, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Australian retailers that will accept Apple Pay include David Jones, Myer, McDonald’s, K-Mart, Telstra, Coles, Woolworths, Target, Starbucks, Officeworks, Hoyts, Zara, Bunnings and Shell, the newspaper added.
Amex cardholders in Australia will soon be able to add store credit cards and loyalty cards to Apple Pay to make purchases and redeem rewards, according to Apple’s Australian website.
Apple and American Express did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.