Apple Pay’s European Expansion Gathers Steam

July 19, 2016, 3:45 PM UTC
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CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Apple Pay went live in France today, marking the first expansion of the mobile payments service into a major country on the European mainland.

A key rival, Samsung Pay, entered the EU at the start of June, via Spain. Within Europe, Android Pay is still only available in the U.K. Apple Pay has been in the U.K. for around a year and, as promised in mid-June, launched in Switzerland earlier this month.

Apple (AAPL) did not make any big fanfare about its French Pay launch on Tuesday, instead just adding details about the rollout to its website for the country.

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So far, the participating banks include Caisse d’Epargne, and Banque Populaire and Carrefour Banque. The service also works with cards issued by employee meal-voucher firm Ticket Restaurant. Apple’s site suggests that telecoms operator Orange’s new mobile-only bank, set to launch next year, will also work with Pay.

On the retail side, those accepting Apple Pay in France include supermarket giant Carrefour, electronics retailer Fnac, and gas chain Total The service allows people to pay for things in-store using their iPhones and Apple Watches.

Apple was loath to discuss which European markets it will enter next, but it’s clear that the race is on. That said, all the mobile payments firms face the problem that easy-to-use contactless payments are already available across much of Europe, thanks to the bank cards people already carry around with them.