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Apple Pay Cash: How to use your iPhone's new Venmo-like feature

Apple Pay Cash is now live, and it makes sending or requesting money almost too easy.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

After an unexpected early release of iOS 11.2, Apple on Tuesday flipped the switch on Apple Pay Cash. 

Like PayPal or Venmo, Apple Pay Cash is a peer-to-peer payment feature that lets you send and receive money through iMessage. Not only does Apple Pay Cash make it easy to pay someone, but it also puts a digital card in your iOS Wallet app to use for purchases in real life. And, in my tests, it's really slick. 

Here's everything you need to know about the new payment platform.

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Requirements

To use Apple Pay Cash you will need to have an iOS device with iOS 11.2 installed, live in the US and have two-factor authentication enabled on your Apple ID account. Additionally, you will need to have a debit or credit card added to the Wallet app for use with Apple Pay.

Enable two-factor authentication in Settings > iCloud (top of the settings app, where your name is) > Password & Security > Two-factor Authentication and follow the prompts.

Add a credit or debit card to the Wallet app by opening Wallet and selecting the "+" sign in the top-right corner. Scan your card and enter the requested information when prompted.

Initial setup

initial-apple-pay-cash-setup

Setting up Apple Pay Cash lets you send and receive money over iMessage.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

After installing iOS 11.2, the first time you launch the Messages app you may be greeted with a message letting you know that Apple Pay Cash is now available on your device. Tap Continue, agree to the terms and wait for Apple to create your digital Apple Pay Cash card. If you don't see the prompt, you can manually trigger the setup process in Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay.

Identity verification

After your Apple Pay Cash card is created, take a few seconds to verify your identity. Apple Pay Cash may or may not ask you if you're sending and receiving money under $500 in a given transaction.

To verify your identity, open the Wallet app, select your Apple Pay Cash card and tap on the information button (the letter "i" with a circle around it).

Next tap Verify Identity. You will be asked for personal information including your name, social security number, date of birth and home address. You may also be asked to answer some questions regarding your personal history or to submit a picture of your driver's license or ID.

Add money to your card

Your Apple Pay Cash card is sort of like a digital bank account. You can add money to the card for safekeeping, or when you receive money from a contact it will automatically be stored on the card's balance, much like Venmo or Square Cash. 

For example, when you first start out your Apple Pay Cash card balance is $0. If someone sends you $50, it will be stored on your Apple Pay Cash card instead of going directly to your bank account. Don't worry, you can transfer it out -- more on that in a minute.

If you want to add money to your Apple Pay Cash card, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash > Add money. You will be asked for an amount to charge the credit or debit card that's set up in the Wallet app. If you don't add money before sending it to a friend, that money will be pulled directly from your bank account. 

Send or request cash

send-apple-pay-cash

This keypad lets you enter in the money you want to send.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Using the Messages app you can send or receive money to fellow Apple Pay Cash users. In a conversation thread, tap on the iMessage app icon and select Apple Pay Cash from your list of iMessage apps.

If the contact doesn't have Apple Pay Cash set up, the app will tell you he or she can't accept payments. If that's not the case you can proceed with the transfer. Enter the dollar amount, followed by send or request. The message text field will populate with the transaction, where you can add a message before sending.

By default, Apple Pay Cash will use your card's balance first, followed by an alternative payment source you have set up in the Wallet app. You will need to approve each outgoing transaction with Touch ID or Face ID, just like you do when using Apple Pay at a retail location or online.

Alternatively, you can tell Siri to send a request or a dollar amount to a contact.

Apple Watch

apple-watch-pay-cash

Apple Pay Cash is also coming to the Apple Watch.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With watchOS 4.2, Apple Pay Cash transactions can be made directly from your wrist. When composing an iMessage on the watch, an Apple Pay button will be present. Tap on it, select the amount and send a payment or request for cash.

Using your cash for IRL payments

Apple Pay Cash will automatically accept incoming transactions without requiring your approval. You can change this setting if you'd rather approve each transaction in Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash > Manually Accept Payments.

apple-pay-cash-card

You can use the Apple Pay Cash card anywhere that accepts Apple Pay.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When you use Apple Pay, you will have the option to use your Apple Pay Cash card and subsequent balance in retail locations or when shopping online. The same goes for sending money through Apple Pay Cash — you will have the option to use your current balance for the transaction.

Find your PIN code

Some retail locations require a PIN code when you use Apple Pay. Your Apple Pay Cash card has a PIN, which you can find in Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash under Card Details.

Transaction history and canceling payments

transaction-history
You can check your transaction history.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To view your Apple Pay Cash transaction history, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash and select the Transactions tab near the top of the screen.

Select a transaction to view more details, such as current status, amount and transaction ID. If a person you've sent money to hasn't accepted your payment, this is where you can cancel the transaction before it's completed.

How to 'cash out' 

transfer-to-bank-account

You can transfer your money to your bank account as well.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If you'd prefer to keep your money in your actual bank account and not in a digital debit card, you will need to add it to your Apple Pay Cash account.

Go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash > Transfer to Bank > Add Bank Account.

Enter your routing and account numbers when asked. Once Apple verifies the information, enter the amount you want to transfer to your bank account and authorize the transaction.

According to the disclaimer after a transfer request, it can take one to three business days for the transfer to complete.

First published Nov. 8, 12:05 p.m. PT.
Update Dec. 4, 10:28 a.m. PT: Adds new details following the launch of iOS 11.2.
Update Dec. 5 8:20 a.m. PT: Adds confirmation of more iPhones receiving the feature, and what you'll see when it turns on.
10:34 a.m. PT: Adds that Apple Pay Cash's launch is now official and that watch OS 4.2 is out.