Apple Explains Why AMEX is Starting for Apple Pay in Canada


Today’s launch of Apple Pay in Canada with American Express only has non-cardholders scratching their heads (or signing up quickly!).

Why did Apple partner with American Express for Canada’s Apple Pay roll out? According to the company’s vice president for Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, speaking to the Associated Press, it’s because American Express is both the card issuer and payment-network operator “so coordination is easier.”

This is in contrast to Visa and MasterCard, where cards are issued by banks themselves, which means there are potentially too many ways to verify a customer’s identity for Apple Pay. Bailey explained these are the same reasons why American Express is the launch partner for Australia, coming later this week.

Back in April, the Wall Street Journal reported Canada’s ‘Big 6’ banks had banded together to leverage their discussions with Apple, in regards to transaction fees and “security authentication.” The Globe and Mail reported last month Apple skipped Canadian banks “because negotiations were dragging,” claim sources.

If you head to the @ mentions of any Canadian bank’s Twitter feed today, you’ll find customers demanding Apple Pay support:

While TD Canada Trust’s recent website leak may point to a future launch, at this point American Express is basking in the light as the sole Apple Pay partner.

Suat Alaybeyoglu, vice president of consumer acquisition and management, proprietary card services, at Amex Bank of Canada, told The Globe and Mail “I think we’re bringing something really cool and something that people have been waiting for for a long time.”

Speaking with The Financial Post, Alaybeyoglu said “Canadian consumers love their smartphones, and they’ve been hearing about mobile payments but have been waiting for a secure and seamless way to do that.” He went on to explain “When you look at seamless user experiences, that’s one thing that Apple Pay is known for.”

ComScore’s recent 2015 Canada Digital Future in Focus report noted 38 percent of smartphone users in Canada are running iOS. Apple Pay is supported on the iPhone 6 or newer, plus any Apple Watch paired with an iPhone 5 or later. For in-app payments, Apple Pay works on the iPad mini 3/4, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro.

In the meantime, our banks believe their proprietary and complex mobile payment solutions tied to wireless carriers will become more popular than Apple Pay–but don’t bet on it.


  • ticky13

    I’m hoping the Chase Amazon Visa credit card is the next one to be added. No affiliation with Canadian banks and Chase already supports Apple Pay in the U.S.

  • I was considering this card as their no foreign currency transaction fees looked compelling for travel. Then the Canadian dollar went into the sh*tter…

  • JB

    Didn’t Moneris just announce support for Apple Pay? Is that just with Amex card holders?

  • ticky13

    It was my main card until I signed up with Amex a few months ago. Use it as a backup when Amex isn’t available. Cashback is decent and the no conversion fee is great, especially when using for online subscriptions such as Google Music, Patreon, etc.

  • Yes they announced support for Apple Pay. Their terminals have supported contactless payments for a while for Visa and MasterCard, and is not limited to Amex.

  • I’ll consider it, but I signed up for a TD Visa a while back in anticipation of Apple Pay (hopefully soon).

  • JB

    Exactly… so why would anyone be “signing up quickly” for AMEX to use Apple Pay if moneris is supporting all 3? *confused*

  • Salinger

    I have the Amazon Visa for just that reason. Even with our horrible exchange rate, sometimes you just have to spend in another currency, especially USD for me. This card is like 3½% back for my USD purchases (2½% saved + 1% earned).

    As I’ve said before, if Capital One gets onboard with Apple Pay, I could care less what the Canadian banks do.

    Most people go with big bank credit cards just because they’re always being pushed in their face. The truth is, issuers like Amex, Cap1, Chase etc. have features and reward schemes that may be miles ahead. And as far as customer service goes, American Express is so far ahead of the big Canadian banks, they’re not even playing in the same league.

  • Because who knows when our banks will support Apple Pay. Some are not willing to wait.

  • JB

    Oh, I get it… the card issurer isn’t supporting it yet, but the payment processor is. Gotchya.

  • dat.jew.doe

    “stingy bastards”….lmao!!!! so true

  • tomm

    A question for Gary: “any Apple Watch paired with an iPhone 5 or later”. I have added both my iPhone 6 and Apple watch, but I don’t understand how Apple watch can authenticate properly, since it does not have the Touch ID finger print sensor. thanks Gary

  • xeronine992

    What is Jennifer smoking? How is partnering with any of the Canadian banks any different in terms of verifying cardholders with customers in the US? Unless I’m missing something.. Sounds like more PR speak, just like when Rogers introduced Roam Like Home and they said something along the lines of since they upgraded their system now they’re able to charge less for roaming.. Pass the buck.

  • xeronine992

    The watch requires the passcode when you first put it on and as long as you don’t take it off it assumes it’s still on your wrist.

    While Touch ID is great, it isn’t key to making a payment. Hence why you don’t need Touch ID to pay with the watch.

  • tomm

    Thank you. It would seem that the Touch ID/finger print is safer than simple 4 digit passcode, but I guess Apple knows what they re doing.

  • xeronine992

    No problem! Not sure if I helped or not really.

    I agree, but one thing I’d like to know is what happens if you leave your phone at home and take just your watch.. How long will Apple Pay work after being disconnected from the phone? Maybe it’ll function for eternity, but I’m wondering if it will stop functioning which might be short enough before someone can guess your passcode.

  • ……

    how is it any different than inserting you card and typing in a 4 digit pin?

  • It’s through the 4-digit PIN you enter when you first put on the watch. Once you take off the watch, you need to re-authenticate.

  • Sumit Sekhri

    Capital One ftw. THey’ve got some great cards. Since they’re also not affiliated with a bank I hope they get on board soon. I too would also not care what the others do at that point.

  • Rio

    She is being nice, we all know the real reason.

  • sukisszoze

    I just received my Chase Amazon Visa and only use it to pay for online purchases outside Canada. I probably will use it to pay for stuff when travelling outside Canada too since I save the 2.5% FX fees, earn 1% and pay no annual fees.

  • Salinger

    I asked Capital One about Apple Pay. I told them I loved using my Amex with Apple Pay and when were they going to offer it. They wrote back to say not at this time but “we love mobile payments too so stay tuned!”. That may just be their way of saying “no comment” but at least it’s not the same dry canned response you’d get from the big banks.

  • Robert.Walter

    Ms Bailey should learn to play public hardball and tell the primary reason they launched with just AMEX.

    Because the banks are balking at giving up some of their margin to Apple, for a negligible security improvement due to the ubiquity of chip+pin cards.

    As a result AMEX was willing to try to conquest customers from banks on the Visa/MC networks and Apple is able to leverage this to put pressure on recalcitrant banks.

    Ms Baily should be explaining this and inviting customers to make the switch to AMEX. This will quickly bring the banks into line there and serve as a lesson to stingy banks in other markets.

  • MGSayah

    Thats TD Bank in the USA.

  • Barry Wombleton

    That said, I can see possibly TD being the first of the big 6 since they already offer it in the US. CIBC on the other hand has come out with their own mobile payment app tied with SureTap and the carriers. Although it’s available to Android and Blackberry customers, it’s limited to Samsung Galaxy S2 and up and Note models and only the LG G3 and HTC One (M7). The Blackberry list at least includes the older Bold 9900.

  • MGSayah

    TD Bank (US). BMO Harris Bank (USA) and RBC Bank (USA) offer Apple Pay in the US. As for SureTap, it works with CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank and Desjardins.
    That being said, let’s hope the big banks jump on board before Christmas.