Apple Pay is coming to Canada by the end of this year, but it will be limited to American Express customers — at least at first.
The longtime rumour was confirmed by CEO Tim Cook, who said that Apple is parterning with American Express to bring Apple Pay, the company’s mobile payments solution that debuted with the iPhone 6 in 2014, to Canada and Australia by the end of this year, and Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain at the beginning of 2016.
It’s unclear if the exclusion of Visa and MasterCard products in Canada is the result of a deal not being made with Canada’s major financial institutions, which issue the cards on the payment networks’ behalf, but Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said in an American Express press release that “[Apple’s] customers love their experience with Apple Pay and we want to bring it to as many of our users worldwide as possible. With a global issuer like American Express, we are thrilled to seamlessly bring our easy, secure and private way to pay to more customers internationally.” In other words, the company plans to roll out Apple Pay as quickly and easily as possible with American Express, and work with other payment networks to fill in the gaps later on.
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal noted that Apple Pay would be arriving in Canada sometime this November, delayed by banks negotiating higher interchange fees. The partnership with American Express smartly gets around this limitation, since the company acts as its own financial institution in Canada, issuing credit cards powered by its own payment network.
According to the release, all consumer, small business and corporate American Express cards will work at stores that accept NFC-based credit card payments (as long as the merchant has a deal with AMEX), and Canadians will be able to add the cards to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices, along with the Apple Watch. American Express cards will also work within apps that accept Apple Pay and AMEX.