Banks in the U.K. Gearing Up for Apple Pay Launch as Santander Allows Customers to Register Cards
Apple Pay in the United Kingdom has yet to officially launch, but some banks are preparing for the upcoming release of the payments service and have begun allowing customers to register their cards for use with Apple Pay.
Several Santander customers on the MacRumors forums have been able to successfully add their cards to Passbook for use with Apple Pay, making the cards available on both their iPhones and their Apple Watches.
Customers registering their cards are also receiving confirmation emails from Santander, informing them that they're now able to use Apple Pay. As of the time of writing, customers have not yet tested the Apple Pay service at a location that accepts Apple Pay. One customer was told the bank's system is not live and that customers who were able to mistakenly register early would be de-registered, so it is not clear if the registered cards will be able to be used to make purchases.
Activating a Santander card with Apple Pay at this time requires U.K. users to set their region to U.S., add a card, and change their region back to U.K., at which point the card remains available in Passbook. It's clearly a workaround, but a sign that banks are preparing to accept Apple Pay in the near future.
Other banks, like MBNA and Nationwide, are giving error messages like "Contact Card Issuer" and "Your Issuer Does Not Yet Offer Support."
It is not clear exactly when Apple Pay will become officially available in the United Kingdom, but during its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple said the payments service would launch in July. Recently released employee training documents have suggested the launch could come next week, on Tuesday, July 14. 250,000 merchants are expected to support Apple Pay in the U.K. when it is released.
Update: One of the Santander customers who was able to activate his card for use with Apple Pay was able to use it at a McDonald's to make a purchase.
Update 2: Santander customers who were able to activate their cards are now receiving email notifications letting them know the Apple Pay service is no longer available for use.