How to Accept Apple Pay at Your Small Business

When you’re a small business owner, it’s key that your payment systems fit three criteria: quick, simple, and secure. That’s why technology like Apple Pay needs to be on your radar. Not only does it check all those boxes, but pretty soon, your customers will expect it.

In a study of payment methods, we found that people who use mobile payments like Apple Pay are really into it. Most cite it as their ideal payment method above credit cards and say they are likely to seek businesses that are set up to accept mobile payments.

There’s wider adoption among younger groups like Millennials, but as that groups is now the largest generation (and one with big buying power) you should get comfortable with mobile payments now sooner rather than later.

To help you do that (or to refresh your memory), here’s a primer on Apple Pay for small business:

What is Apple Pay?
How does Apple Pay work
Why accept Apple Pay
Is Apple Pay secure
What hardware do you need to accept Apple Pay
How do I accept Apple Pay
How do I train my staff to use Apple Pay
How do I let customers know I accept Apple Pay

What is Apple Pay?

Before you make a decision about accepting Apple Pay, let’s go over how it works. Apple Pay transactions are a type of contactless payment that are enabled through a technology called near field communication, or NFC. NFC is what enables two devices — like a smartphone and a payments reader — to communicate with each other when they’re held close together.

Apple Pay is available the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Learn more about how to set up Apple Pay on your device.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile wallet. In stores, Apple Pay allows you to check out and pay by holding your phone over a payments reader that can accept Apple Pay. In apps, Apple Pay allows you to trigger a payment from just a tap on your phone. On a website, click the “Buy with Apple Pay” button on the checkout page and then confirm the payment with a tap on your phone or the button on your Apple Watch.

Apple Pay utilizes NFC (near field communication), which enables two devices to communicate wirelessly when they’re close together. Increasingly, NFC is being used to power contactless payments like Apple Pay.

Apple Pay uses a technology called tokenization to safeguard bank details. After you take a picture of your credit card and load it into your iPhone (you can read our detailed guide about how to set up Apple Pay here), Apple sends the details to your card’s issuing bank or network.

The bank or network then replaces your bank details with a series of randomly generated numbers (the token). That random number is sent back to Apple, which then programs it into your phone. This means that the account details on your phone can’t be cloned into anything valuable to fraudsters.

During a transaction, NFC transfers a token from your iPhone to the payments processor, securely and quickly. It’s as easy as that.

Why accept Apple Pay and other mobile payments?

There are two main reasons to accept mobile payments like Apple Pay at your business: speed and security.

Mobile payments are processed faster than magnetic-stripe cards and chip card payments, which means they can make a serious dent in wait times at the register (and, as a result, improve customer satisfaction).

When it’s the lunchtime rush and you’ve got a line out the door, you need to ring up customers as quickly as possible. If the line isn’t moving fast enough, customers might go somewhere else. In other words, the faster you serve customers, the more money your business makes.

We’re using burgers to represent an “item.” Of course there are a number of factors here — how many customers are fumbling for change or how long it takes your staff to give change back, how clumsy customers are with their phone, how fast your short order cook can flip burgers — but the graph gives you a good idea of each payment type’s speed.

What’s the gist? Your line moves a lot faster with Apple Pay and that’s better for your business.

Even more important than speed, Apple Pay transactions are very secure. The card data is tokenized, encrypted, and constantly changing, which makes it way more difficult for fraudsters to do anything with it.

Apple Pay has an added layer of security, requiring fingerprint verification or authentication from your phone password. That means even if thieves are able to unlock your phone, they still won’t be able to access your Apple Pay account. Accepting Apple Pay means you’re better protected against fraud and that’s better for everyone.

Is Apple Pay Secure?

It’s natural to question the safety of loading your credit card and bank information on a device, but rest assured, it’s very secure. Here’s why: In order to authenticate a payment through your phone, you have to hold your finger on the Touch ID button to have your print scanned and verified. The entire transaction is complete in just a few seconds.

Beyond fingerprints, the data associated with your cards is encrypted and always changing, so even if your phone is stolen, thieves wouldn’t be able to do anything with the information. That makes the technology more secure than magnetic-stripe cards, or even cash for that matter.

What hardware do I need to accept Apple Pay?

Most NFC-enabled terminals (like Square Reader for contactless and chip) accept Apple Pay. Customers just hold their Apple device over the terminal and complete the transaction with their Touch ID, or fingerprint. Square’s NFC reader connects with Square Stand, and you can also use it for transactions outside your store, like at events or outdoor markets.

Apple Pay isn’t just accepted in stores — now you can use it within certain apps and websites. There’s obviously no NFC reader involved in these transactions. If you’re using Apple Pay in an app, just place your finger on the Touch ID button.

If you’re using it in a website, click the “Buy with Apple Pay” button on the checkout page and then confirm the payment with the Touch ID on your phone. You can use Apple Pay within the apps target of businesses such as Caviar, Target, Airbnb, Groupon, Etsy, and Sephora.

How do I accept Apple Pay at my business?

Accepting Apple Pay at your business is easy. Here are some best practices for setting up your Square Reader and Apple Pay marketing kit:

  1. Get a new NFC-enabled payment terminal that accepts contactless payments like Apple Pay. Square Reader for contactless and chip, Square Stand for contactless and chip, Square Terminal and Square Register all accept contactless payments. Our newest Square Stand fits iPad (2019), iPad Air (2019), and iPad Pro 10.5”.

  2. Set up your new reader. Square Reader for contactless and chip connects to your device wirelessly as long as you have a compatible iOS device. It also works with Square Stand — just plug it into the hardware hub using the Dock for Square Reader. If you’re setting it up with Bluetooth LE, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your mobile device. Then open the Square app and connect the reader. Make sure the reader is facing your customers and is within their reach so they can make Apple Pay payments easily.

  3. To accept payments, have customers hold their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch near the reader until four green lights appear and a chime sounds. When you see the check mark on your screen, the transaction is complete.

You can also accept Apple pay on your website. Square Checkout, a hosted checkout and online payment form that developers can implement with a single integration, supports Web Apple Pay.

In addition, Square e-commerce API supports Web Apple Pay and makes it easy for developers who are building their own checkout flow to include an option for Apple Pay at checkout.

How do I train my staff to use Apple Pay?

The more knowledgeable your employees are about Apple Pay, the more likely they are to recommend it to your customers. So use the materials provided with your Apple Pay marketing kit to train your staff.

It includes a training sheet that explains how to accept Apple Pay payments. It also explains how to help your customers set up Apple Pay, in case they need a hand.

The kit also includes stickers that are cheat sheets for your staff — in case they need a reminder about how to accept Apple Pay or tell a customer how to set it up. Put the stickers near your point of sale so they’re easy to access during transactions.

How do I let customers know I accept Apple Pay?

Once your business is ready to accept Apple Pay, let your customers know about it.

Placing Apple Pay decals throughout your store is an easy way to let customers know that you accept Apple Pay — and they’re included free in your Apple Pay marketing kit. Each kit includes: one window decal, two register decals, and six POS terminal decals, with a maximum order of one per business. It’s a pretty low-tech way to get the message out, but surprisingly effective. (Apple offers free Apple Pay decals on its website too.)

To make sure you reach people who haven’t been in your store lately, post on your social media accounts that you’re all set for mobile payments. Maybe post a picture of your new Square Reader to show your most tech-savvy customers that you’re ready for mobile payments.

Or, use Square’s email marketing software to inform your regular customers of the update (while you’re at it, it’s a good opportunity to let them know about new items or services). We’ve created a template that you can send your customers right away. You can also incentivize shoppers who use Apple Pay at your business when they buy something in the next week — be sure to mention it in the email.

Using Apple Pay also makes it easy for you to run your business on the go. With Square Card, a personalized business debit card, you can use Apple Pay for the fastest and most secure payments online, in-store, and in-app.

Ready to use Apple Pay at your business? Order our Square Reader for contactless and chip for just $49.