How to Accept Apple Pay: A Guide for Small Businesses

Here's how to set your small business up to take Apple Pay, plus the pros and cons of accepting it.
Dec 14, 2021

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Point-of-sale systems are more than just cash registers these days. Contactless payment services such as Apple Pay move customers through the line faster and make fumbling with physical cards and cash feel old-fashioned.

What Is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a service from Apple designed to help users make credit or debit card payments from mobile devices or Apple Watches. Customers approve payments with passcodes, Face ID or double-clicks on Apple Watch’s side button. Customers can use Apple Pay to pay in person or online.

In-person Apple Pay transactions are contactless transactions that use near-field communication, or NFC, technology. NFC allows smartphones and card readers to communicate when they’re near each other.

How to Accept Apple Pay

If you’re selling in person:

  1. Get a card reader that accepts contactless payments and works with near-field communication. Square and Shopify are two examples of companies that sell card readers that accept contactless payments, but many other card readers offer this technology. Many attach to iPhones, iPads and other devices.

  2. Follow your POS system’s instructions to connect your card reader to your checkout system. See our rundown of POS systems for small businesses if you don’t already use one.

  3. Make sure your customers can get close to the reader when they’re ready to use Apple Pay. Customers hold their phone, tablet or Apple Watch near the card reader to pay.

  4. Train your staff to help customers find and use Apple Pay on their devices.

If you’re selling online:

  1. Find a payment processor that works with Apple Pay. Shopify, Stripe, WePay and Authorize.net are examples of companies that can process Apple Pay transactions.

  2. Follow your e-commerce platform’s instructions to activate Apple Pay and/or add a “Buy with Apple Pay” button to your checkout page.

  3. When customers tap the button, they will be prompted to authenticate the purchase via Touch ID or other methods. Customers can also confirm payments on their Apple Watches. Customers don't need to enter their credit card information manually.

Should Your Small Business Accept Apple Pay? Pros and Cons

About 85% of retailers in the U.S. accept Apple Pay, but that doesn’t mean your business has to jump on the bandwagon. Here are some pros and cons of accepting Apple Pay.

Pros

  1. Speed. Typically it takes 15 to 30 seconds less to process a contactless transaction than it does to process a credit or debit card transaction the traditional way (swiping a card and signing the receipt or entering a PIN). So if you process 100 transactions a day, that could cut 50 minutes of checkout time, which could help move more customers through the line and make you more money.

  2. Security. Apple Pay tokenizes transactions, meaning that it replaces the card information with random numbers (a token). The token goes through the payment network, and the payment is processed without using the actual bank account details. This prevents hackers from being able to extract credit card information. Also, Apple Pay doesn’t store card numbers on phones or Apple servers. Apple Pay doesn’t share card numbers with merchants.

  3. Fees. Apple doesn't charge merchants for using Apple Pay. Businesses still pay fees to their card processors, however.

  4. Available internationally. Apple Pay works in more than 60 countries, making it an option for small businesses with overseas operations.

Cons

  1. Terminal upgrades. If your card terminals don’t accept contactless payments, you may need to buy new or upgrade your existing terminals.

  2. Consumer setup. Apple Pay is popular, but not everybody uses it. In addition, some people may be unaware of how to set it up on their phones and authenticate transactions, which could slow down checkout.

  3. Use limitations. Apple Pay is an Apple product. Therefore, customers with other types of phones or other operating systems may not be able to use it at your business.

  4. Training. You may need to set aside time to train your staff to troubleshoot Apple Pay checkout problems or help customers find Apple Pay on their phones.

Credit card readers comparison table

Reader

Style

Cost

Payments accepted

Fees

Additional device required

Square Contactless & Chip Reader

Bluetooth.

$49 (reader); $29 (dock).

Chip and contactless.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Clover Go

Bluetooth.

$99.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

PayPal Zettle

Bluetooth.

$79.

Chip and contactless.

1.9% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

SumUp Plus

Bluetooth.

$19.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.75% and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Clover Flex

Handheld.

$499.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

None.

Helcim Card Reader

Bluetooth.

$109.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

Varies by card type and monthly transaction average.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Toast Go 2

Handheld.

$169.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.49% plus 15 cents and up.

None.

Square Terminal

Register.

$299.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

None.

Square Stand

Register.

$169.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible iPad.

Clover Mini

Register.

$749.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

None.

Clover Station Solo

Register.

$1,349.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

None.

Square Register

Register.

$799.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

None.

Clover Station Duo

Register.

$1,649.

Chip, contactless and mapstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

None.