‘Tap to Pay on iPhone’ May Be Coming Soon to an Apple Store Near You

The feature will be tested in-house first before a possible wider deployment for other retailers.
Tap to Pay is Coming Soon Credit: Koshiro K / Shutterstock
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Following a report last week that Apple had started using Tap to Pay on iPhone at the Apple Park Visitor’s Center, it looks like the company is now ready to turn the key on a much wider rollout.

Unsurprisingly, the next step in Apple’s plans for Tap to Pay on iPhone is bringing it into its own retail stores. This not only allows Apple to “eat its own dog food” by testing the feature under real-world conditions, but it’s also a great way to promote the technology — and the iPhone itself — as a tool for retail operations.

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According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is starting to roll the technology out in its stores beginning today, following a successful test at its Cupertino headquarters.

Gurman doesn’t offer any more details on which stores it’s coming to first or how long this will take, but the phrase “across its stores” suggests that Apple is planning a widespread deployment, at least across its U.S. retail stores. An international rollout is likely a longer way off.

While it’s not clear how long it may take for Tap to Pay on iPhone to show up at your local Apple Store, this could be one of the easiest retail rollouts in Apple store history. The entire point of the new feature is that it doesn’t require any hardware other than an iPhone running iOS 15.5, so Apple doesn’t need to ship any new equipment to stores; retail staff need only an iPhone with the necessary app installed.

Of course, there are still training and other procedural issues to be addressed, but there’s a good chance that the systems aren’t fundamentally different than what’s on the bulkier payment terminals that Apple employees have already been using for years.

While it’s possible Apple could be supplying a special version of iOS to its retail store employees, it’s much more likely that Tap to Pay on iPhone is ready to go with iOS 15.5. Apple started adding code in iOS 15.4 so developers could begin working with it, so there’s certainly been enough time to get the feature ready.

Some of our sources have suggested that we won’t see Tap to Pay on iPhone until iOS 16 comes out this fall. However, we can’t rule out the possibility that it could arrive sooner. After all, when we first heard rumors of Car Key in 2020, many assumed that it wasn’t coming until the launch of iOS 14, yet Apple snuck it into iOS 13.6 — a point release that came in July — three weeks after it had already announced iOS 14 at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

That wasn’t a one-off, either. Apple did the same thing with Apple Music in 2015, and the Apple Card in 2019, both of which came in summer point releases only weeks after the next major release had been unveiled at WWDC.

Still, Tap to Pay on iPhone is a slightly different animal, so we may see more limited rollouts with select Apple partners before it’s ready to open the floodgates for just any business to use it. Apple already has Stripe and Shopify on board, and others have been lining up. However, retailers that want to use the feature will need to work through one of these partners, so it’s a relatively simple matter for Apple to control its availability. Even if Tap to Pay on iPhone is fully enabled in iOS 15.5, it still needs an app from an approved payment provider to make it work, and there’s no word yet on when those will be available.

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