Tech

iPhone: Sparkassen integrate checking cards into Apple Pay

The savings banks want “from late summer” offer their customers to be able to use their Girocard for payments with Apple Pay, as the Sparkassen- und Giroverband announces. So far, the smartphone payment method could only be used in conjunction with a credit or debit card.

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In Germany, girocards, which many still colloquially refer to as the EC card brand name, which was abolished in 2007, are significantly more popular than classic credit and debit cards from Mastercard, Visa and similar providers. Sparkasse credit cards from Visa and Mastercard have been available for Apple Pay payments since mid-December 2019.

With Apple Pay, you can pay with the iPhone and the Apple Watch at the checkout as with a contactless card. The payment method can also be used for online purchases. Users approve the transactions via the Face ID iPhone facial recognition or the fingerprint scanner.

Current cards widely used in Germany

The mass distribution of contactless Girocards by Sparkasse customers has contributed in recent years to the fact that contactless payment terminals have been introduced in German retail. Smartphone payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay now also benefit from this technical infrastructure. 43.7 million of the 45.8 million Sparkasse Girocards can currently be used without contact (95.6 percent). At the end of 2020, almost all Sparkasse cards should be equipped with the function. In May 2020, 56.6 percent of Girocard payments from Sparkasse customers were contactless.

The savings banks had reacted cautiously to Apple Pay at the end of 2018. But cheers from the first Apple Pay partners quickly made the rounds. At Deutsche Bank you could hear that expectations had been significantly exceeded. Financial institutions that were not there at the start had to listen to complaints from their customers.

When introducing Apple Pay, several banks did not rely on classic credit cards, but on a debit card system in which – similar to the Girocard – the amount spent is debited directly from the checking account. This debit card does not have to be issued to customers as a plastic card, but works as a virtual card on the smartphone.

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