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Apple Pay Just Launched in Canada, But You Probably Can't Use It

Only American Express cardholders can make mobile payments for now.

by Matthew Braga
Nov 17 2015, 4:55pm

Image: Apple

Apple's mobile payments service finally launched in Canada on Tuesday—if you can really call it a launch.

In Canada, American Express cardholders are the only people who can use Apple Pay with their iPhone or Apple Watch, and only if those cards have been issued directly to cardholders and not through a Canadian bank.

Everyone else, for the moment, is out of luck.

This news probably won't come as a surprise to Canadians who have been waiting on Apple Pay's arrival; an Amex-only launch has been rumoured for at least a month, ever since Apple announced the service's was coming to Canada in late October.

The Globe and Mail, citing sources, said that slow negotiations with Canadian banks were likely to blame—but a wider, future launch may still be in the cards.

Part of the problem may be that, in Canada, credit cards are not issued to consumers directly, but through banks such as TD, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and CIBC. According to one of The Globe and Mail's sources, Apple has been negotiating "by credit-card network rather than bank by bank."

Interchange fees—the small slice of each purchase that merchants must pay to Apple—have also been a rumoured sticking point amongst Canadian banks.

Apple Pay launched in the US in October of last year, and now works with most credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Jennifer Bailey, Apple's vice-president for Apple Pay, told the Associated Press that US retailers are expected to surpass 1.5 million tap-capable machines this year.