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Apple Pay set to launch outside the US tomorrow, UK bank lets slip

A UK bank's hastily deleted tweet appears to confirm that the iPhone mobile payment system will this week make its first foray outside of the US.

Apple Pay launched in the US in October 2014 and is poised to hit UK shops this week. James Martin/CNET

Apple Pay is set to start paying off in the UK on Tuesday. UK bank HSBC appears to have inadvertently confirmed the date that you can start using your iPhone to pay for stuff in British shops.

The UK is set to be the first country outside of the US to adopt Apple Pay. Launched stateside in October 2014, Apple Pay is a mobile payment technology that lets you pay for things in shops with your iPhone 6 and 6 Plus or Apple Watch. You can swipe your phone on a point-of-sale device to buy something, or use any Apple device with a TouchID fingerprint reader to verify your identity for online purchases.

Apple's global reach makes this perhaps the highest-profile development in the burgeoning world of mobile payments.

High street bank HSBC took a break from tweeting about Wimbledon on Sunday to giddily reply to a British customer that Apple Pay would launch this week. "It's due to launch this Tuesday! We're excited too!" the HSBC_UK Twitter account is reported to have told Twitter user Andy Thursby. The tweet has since been deleted.

Neither HSBC nor Apple immediately responded to a request for comment.

Eagle-eyed Twitter users have also spotted Apple Pay signage going up in UK shops.

Apple Pay will work in 250,000 locations in the UK, including major high street chains like Boots, Costa Coffee, Marks & Spencer, Nandos and Starbucks. The Post Office will also accept it, as will London Underground's contactless ticket barriers.

At first, Apple Pay will match the £20 limit per transaction set by contactless cards to prevent criminals from nabbing your card or phone and emptying your account. From September, you'll be able to spend £30 at a time on your contactless card and Apple Pay may also increase around the same time.

UK banks Halifax, HSBC, NatWest, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander are all aboard, with only Barclays holding out, instead banking on its own bPay mobile payment system of contactless wearables. Other rivals include Samsung Pay and Google's Android Pay.

Dates for when Apple Pay will come to other countries are yet to be confirmed, but it's a complex process because Apple has to reach a variety of deals in each territory. Apple must agree with a range of financial institutions and retail partners how they will split the fees from each transaction.