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Why Apple Pay Could Be a Game Changer for Businesses

If Apple has its way, swiping your credit card may soon become a thing of the past.

At the very Cupertino, Calif., venue where Steve Jobs pulled the first Macintosh out of a bag more than 30 years ago, the company announced today a brand new mobile payments system called Apple Pay.

Many have speculated that the technology could overtake credit cards as a predominant payments medium, marking a brand new day for business owners across the globe.

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Incorporating NFC (near field communication) technology, users simply place their finger on the iPhone Touch ID home button and hold the device near a contactless reader, whereupon a secure payment is instantly transacted.

Apple Pay is shipping with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as the forthcoming Apple Watch. It will be compatible with 5th generation iPhones as well.

While companies like Google and Square currently tout mobile payment systems of their own, Apple is introducing Apple Pay with much aplomb. The company, which already has credit card information for its roughly 800 million iTunes account holders on file, says Apple Pay will support American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards.

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Today, the company also announced that Apple Pay will be supported by some of the nation’s biggest retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, the Disney Store, Duane Reade, Macy’s, Sephora, Staples, Subway, Walgreens and Whole Foods. It will even be available at McDonald’s drive-thrus. This is in addition to the 220,000 merchant locations in the U.S. that already have contactless payment enabled, Apple said.

And to quell security concerns, Apple noted that cashiers will no longer see users’ names or credit card information at checkout — nor will credit card numbers be stored on iPhones. Rather, each purchase utilizes a uniquely generated, one-time code.

Apple Pay also works for online shopping, the company said. Near-instantaneous checkout can be activated with a single touch of the home button, and is available for digital purchases with Target, Uber, Panera and more.

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