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.