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Apple Pay arrives in Israel to shakeup its payment infrastructure

Apple Pay arrives in Israel to shakeup its payment infrastructure

Even though Israel is a leading fintech ecosystem, citizens have long relied on outdated legacy payment systems for their everyday transactions

James Spiro | 12:49  05.11.2020
Israelis will finally see an update in how they process their payments this year after it was confirmed that Apple Pay will be coming to Israel through the payment card company Isracard. It is expected that the system will be implemented by the end of 2020 in accordance with new standards introduced by the Bank of Israel requiring businesses to be able to receive payments and transactions using more advanced technologies.

While Israel is seen as somewhat of an industry leader with fintech services and payment systems, the country itself has remained relatively slow in updating its own local infrastructures. At the time of writing, most establishments still request a simple swipe to charge customers, with ‘chip and pin’ technology seen as revolutionary in a limited number of establishments. The Isracard Group has been operating for more than 40 years and issues MasterCard and Visa cards, opening up the service to more than four million cards and 100,000 businesses around the country.

A customer using Apple Pay. Photo: Shutterstock A customer using Apple Pay. Photo: Shutterstock A customer using Apple Pay. Photo: Shutterstock

According to Hebrew daily Israel Hayom, rival credit card companies, Max and Cal, have also signed agreements with Apple and have completed all the technical testing required, including piloting the product in recent weeks.

Apple Pay helps customers pay for goods and services using a smartphone or smartwatch by way of a Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip. This chip allows the device to communicate with a register and can help speed up payments in a more secure way. In theory, these NFC chips can be read by any third party service for utilization. However, Apple does not allow third parties to access this chip for payment services, so it is essential that the banks play nice with the tech giant.   

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Talks of Apple Pay coming to Israel have been reported by Calcalist since 2014. In February 2020, talks fell through again after Apple allegedly demanded 0.25% of the card issuer’s revenues in order to operate on its operating system. The new agreement brings this down to 0.05%. While big businesses will be required to the new EMV standard by the end of November, smaller businesses have until July 2021 to make the change.

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