By mid-day on Tuesday, South Africans were reporting success in buying coffee and fried chicken by using their iPhones, or Apple Watches, instead of a payment card, as Apple Pay quietly went live via some South African banks.
Legal preparations for the South African launch of the service were spotted in January, but neither Apple nor its bank partners ever announced a date. Keeping with that approach, Nedbank on Tuesday only confirmed the news after being approached for comment, while Absa issued a belated press release after users had already posted details of the experience on social media.
Card issuers must make their debit or credit cards available for registration on Apple Pay, and by Tuesday users reported they could use cards from Discovery Bank as well as Nedbank and Absa.
Missing from the list, though, was technology-focussed First National Bank, to the considerable dismay of early adopters who threatened to abandon FNB. In a short statement, FNB said it is “working with Apple” and will make Apple Pay available to customers – but did not mention a date.