Apple Pay to expand to the web

Capability is part of both the upcoming macOS Sierra and iOS 10 this fall

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Apple's MacOS Sierra brings Apple Pay to Macs. Credit: Apple

Shoppers will soon be able to buy merchandise with Apple Pay over the web from a Mac desktop or laptop, with the purchase authenticated via a buyer's fingerprint scan on their iPhone or a touch on their Apple Watch.

The new Apple Pay capability will be released as part of the free, rebranded (from OS X) macOS Sierra upgrade coming sometime this fall, Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference held in San Francisco on Monday.

Currently, shoppers can pay for merchandise using Apple Pay via an app on an iPhone or Apple Watch at hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale merchants in the U.S. and five other countries — Canada, the UK, Australia, China and Singapore. Hong Kong, France, Spain and Switzerland are getting the service soon, Apple said recently.

Although a leader in mobile payments, Apple Pay, as well as other other mobile payment technologies, have not caught on as well as expected.

Putting Apple Pay on Mac computers will greatly expand the number of purchases made with the service, analysts said. It will also put Apple in competition for web payments with companies like PayPal.

"Extending Apple Pay to the web is a really big deal because up to this point, there have been no secure methods to buy over the web that used biometric technology without sending your credit card information to the e-tailer," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

To use the service, an Apple Pay on-screen button will be available at a participating online retailer when a person shops via a Safari browser, Apple said in a statement. Apple showed dozens of participating retailers on a slide during the WWDC presentation.

Unlike other online payment services, using Apple Pay means, "you no longer need to share credit or debit card numbers with an online merchant, and actual card numbers are not stored on your device, nor on Apple servers," Apple said.

"Strong encryption protects all communication between your devices and Apple Pay servers and Apple Pay does not track your purchases," the statement added.

Google is working toward a web-enabled payment system as well, although it already provides Google checkout, which works with Google Wallet. Amazon Payments includes a Simple Pay approach, which simplifies the online buying process.

Federighi also said Apple Pay will work via Safari with participating merchants in the upcoming version of iOS 10, which is due to arrive for free in the fall for many models of iPhones and iPads.

This capability lets users pay with Apple Pay when in apps as well.

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