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New Tap to Pay feature enables iPhone-to-iPhone payments without any hardware — how it works

Apple Tap to Pay
Apple Tap to Pay (Image credit: Apple)

Fumbling around with unwieldy credit card reader dongles may be a thing of the past for street vendors and small business owners, thanks to Apple's new Tap to Pay feature. This perk lets iPhone users make transactions without a payment terminal or any additional hardware.

Tap to Pay targets merchants — not your average Joe seeking a seamless alternative to Cash App or Zelle to request payments from indebted friends. Only third-party business apps can enable Tap to Pay if the developer chooses to integrate the feature into its platform.

How does Tap to Pay work?

Let's say you're at a street fair and want to purchase a $60 painting. The vendor with Tap to Pay can pull up the transaction on their iPhone and you invoke your contactless payment of choice (e.g. Apple Pay). Next, you place your iPhone on top of the vendor's iOS device, initiate a simple tap, and voila, the payment is processed.

According to Apple's Feb. 8 press release (opens in new tab), Stripe will be the first payment app to offer the new iPhone Tap to Pay feature for business customers.

“As more and more consumers are tapping to pay with digital wallets and credit cards, Tap to Pay on iPhone will provide businesses with a secure, private, and easy way to accept contactless payments and unlock new checkout experiences using the power, security and convenience of iPhone,” said Jennifer Bailey, VP of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.

After Stripe hops on board, other business payment apps will have the option to offer Tap to Pay later this year. As mentioned, no additional hardware is needed for Tap to Pay, making it an attractive, convenient feature for on-the-go, small business owners.

Apple didn't give a specific date when Tap to Pay will be widely available, but the Cupertino-based tech giant recently rolled out iOS 15.4 beta 2 to developers, which contains Tap to Pay's framework, 9to5Mac reported. 

You can't use Tap to Pay on the latest beta (third-party apps need to enable it first), but you'll find images that reveal Tap to Pay's user interface as well as a "Payment Received" sound file.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!