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Apple Pay needs US credit card but can work elsewhere -- report

A video posted by blog site TechSmartt shows how to "trick" Apple Pay into working on NFC terminals outside the US.

You can apparently use Apple Pay outside the US if you meet the right conditions. Apple

Apple Pay is designed to function only in the US, but you can apparently coax it into paying for goods in other countries by using a US credit card and changing your iPhone's location status to the US.

On Monday, Apple officially launched Apple Pay through its iOS 8.1 update. Using the new mobile payments system, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users can pay for products at retailers with NFC (near-field communications) terminals. According to Apple, there are about 220,000 retailers and restaurants with such terminals in the US.

You need an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus because only the new models contain the NFC tech needed to communicate with NFC terminals. Paying for items via Apple Pay also requires you to enter your credit or debit card information into the phone.

A video posted Tuesday by blog site TechSmartt offers a demo of exactly how to set up Apple Pay to support countries beyond the US. A TechSmartt guru named Matt tells us that he hails from Canada but through a little bit of digging and hacking was able to get Apple Pay to work in his country.

Here's how Matt achieved his feat and how you may be able to do the same if you live outside the US and want to use Apple Pay:

  • First, you need a credit or debit card that's compatible with Apple Pay. That means a card issued by a bank in the US.
  • Second, you need to go to the Settings screen in iOS, tap the General tab, and then change your region to the United States.
  • Next, you set up Apple Pay by adding your credit or debit card number, expiration date, and security code.
  • Finally, you can test the process by using Apple Pay to buy something at a physical store with an NFC terminal. In Matt's case, the process did work as he was able to use Apple Pay in Canada to buy soda from a vending machine with an NFC payment symbol.

Matt notes that he only tested the process in Canada. One commenter to the video claimed Apple Pay worked in the Netherlands, while another said it worked in Australia. Other commenters said they couldn't get Apple Pay to work in their countries, but they tried non-US credit cards that are not yet supported.

Users in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere also say they've used Apple Pay successfully via the same steps shared by TechSmartt, according to MacRumors. The documented workaround applies not just to people who live in countries outside the US but obviously to US citizens traveling abroad who may wish to purchase items through Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is designed to work at checkouts with the NFC payment icon. Apple

So when might people outside the US be able to use Apple Pay without relying on a US credit card? Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. But plans are apparently in the works.

"We are working closely with Apple and with our member banks to bring this new service to market in Europe," Steve Perry, chief digital officer at Visa Europe, told the Financial Times earlier this month.

Apple Pay could even wend its way into China. A September 12 report from AppleInsider cited an unnamed source who claimed that Chinese state-backed bank card association UnionPay has struck an agreement to support Apple Pay with its own cards.

For Apple Pay to truly take off, Apple would need to expand the service beyond the United States. But that process may take time as the company has to negotiate with all the different banks and credit card issuers in other countries. Local retailers also have to set up the necessary NFC terminals to enable the Apple Pay transactions.

Finally, Apple Pay will likely need to prove that it can work easily and successfully in the United States before it can truly spread its wings worldwide.