By Jonathan Davies

Apple Pay has launched in the UK, allowing Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch owners to pay by touching their device to contact pads.

The identify of the user is verified via the fingerprint scanner and Apple Pay can also be used to make online payments.

At the moment, payments are limited to £20, but there are plans to raise the limit to £30 later this year.

Customers of NatWest, Nationwide, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Santander are able to use Apple Pay. But HSBC has said its customers will not be able to use Apple Pay until the end of the month, despite being listed on Apple's website as a launch partner as late as Monday evening.

The bank claims it never planned to be available on launch day, but instead hopes to make the service available for customers by the end of July.

Barlcays, which has its own mobile payment system, says it will offer Apple Pay "in the future". Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds, TSB and Marks and Spencer said they will launch in the autumn.

What does Apple Pay mean for small businesses?

Dave Hobday, UK Managing Director of Worldpay, said: “Apple Pay will revolutionise the way we shop, helping to create the UK’s first ‘cashless generation’ for whom paying with cash is as alien as using a landline or renting a video. Young people have always been early adopters and will be quick to favour businesses who offer the convenience and flexibility of contactless technology. Those that don’t will miss out to their more savvy rivals.”

Raj Sond, General Manager, First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS), said: “The launch of Apple Pay in the UK is a fantastic opportunity for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) who will be able to reap the benefits of this new payment method without the usual cost barriers associated with adopting new technology. All SMEs with the ability to take contactless payments will now be able to accept Apple Pay.

"With the contactless spend limit set to rise from £20 to £30 in September, and some retailers considering a limitless acceptance in the future — retailers of all sizes could benefit from this trend for convenient ‘tap and go’ payment, regardless of the price of their goods. This will be of particular interest to businesses such as Quick Service Restaurants, with high footfall and a requirement to get customers in and out the door quickly.

“Of course, it will take a little while to reach mass adoption, but with Apple’s strong brand following, this trust is expected to quickly convert to support Apple Pay. Consumers — particularly the younger, more tech savvy audience — are much more likely to forget their wallet than their iPhone, which may open doors for SMEs to do businesses with a whole new customer segment. An increase in contactless transactions will also reduce the burden of cash management for small businesses, and the time SME owners and their staff must dedicate to ‘behind the scenes’ admin.”