Apple Pay is a mobile payment service that uses NFC and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to allow users to pay for items online and in-stores in a quick and secure manner. It also lets you use your finger to pay for in-app purchases on your iPhone or Apple Watch, and soon it'll be coming to the Mac. Here's everything you need to know about Apple Pay in the UK. See also: What is NFC & how does it work?

During the WWDC 2016 keynote Apple announced that it would be bringing Apple Pay support to MacOS Sierra via Safari. Buy with Apple Pay buttons will appear on supported sites, and you'll then be prompted to scan your fingerprint on your iPhone to authorise the payment.

Update 4 October 2016: The co-operative bank is the latest in the UK to add Apple Pay support.

See also: LG Pay.

Apple Pay UK release date: When is Apple Pay coming out?

Apple Pay launched in the UK on 14 July, with support from major High Street banks and retailers such as Costa, Boots, Waitrose and the London Underground. Barclays (finally) is the most recent bank to have joined the list of supported UK banks (see which banks are supported below).

Apple Pay first launched in the US on 20 October 2014 as part of the iOS 8.1 update. This meant UK users had to wait almost eight months longer.

Last year Visa said that it was working with Apple to bring Apple Pay to Europe in 2015. According to Apple executive Eddie Cue, the company was "working hard to bring it to even more countries," so a UK release was always in the pipeline - and now it is here.

When is Apple Pay coming out?

This despite a new set of regulations from the European Union Council of Ministers that some thought could throw a spanner in the works and delay things for Apple when it comes to launching Apple Pay in the UK, as new, tighter regulations that are currently being planned could require additional authorisation processes.

On the other hand, the regulations could favour Apple Pay in some ways, because they stipulate "strong customer authentication" and biometric identification certainly seems to fit the bill. Other factors that could have contributed to delays include Europe's contactless payment limit which used to be £15, but has subsequently been increased twice: first to £20 and then £30 in September 2015. In the US, there's no limit on contactless payment yet.

Apple Pay in the UK: which banks and shops support Apple Pay in the UK?

Apple Pay UK

Apple says that 70 percent of credit- and debit cards in the UK are supported by Apple Pay. It showed a graphic which name checked all the major high street banks (except Barclays) at its announcement at WWDC in June 2015.

Banks that support Apple Pay include American Express, Barclays, First Direct, HSBC, Halifax, Lloyds, MBNA, M&S, NatWest, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Tesco Bank, TSB, Ulster Bank, and the co-operative bank.

In terms of retailers, the list includes McDonalds, Lidl, M&S, Boots, Waitrose, Costa Coffee and more. Apple said that there were over 250,000 locations on launch day where you can pay with a compatible iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch including on the London Underground, overground and on buses.

How to use Apple Pay

Apple Pay works via the Passbook app (this will be renamed Wallet in iOS 9). Open Passbook and you should see a message pop up asking if you want to add a credit or debit card. Then, follow the on-screen instructions and let the camera automatically recognise your card details. You have to enter the security code manually.

Next you will need to accept the Ts and Cs, and verify the card by either gettting a code via text, or by calling your bank. Clearly, text is the easier option here.

Then your card will show as "ready for Apple Pay" in the Passbook app. No card details are shown - just a basic representation of the card with the last four digits - they remain private, as does your balance.

Using Apple Pay, those with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus (or an Apple Watch, but not iPhone 5s owners, for some reason) can cough up cash for things by touching the NFC-chip built into their device to a compatible reader in stores.

Apple Pay also works in apps, using the "one-touch checkout" feature, which pretty much just requires you to have your card details stored (securely) in Passbook, and you will need to place your finger over the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in order to identify yourself.

Apps which support Apple Pay include the Apple Store app, ETSY, Zara, JD Sports, Groupon, Uber, Starbucks, Disney and more.

For more, visit Macworld UK's Apple Pay FAQ, which has everything you need to know about the service.