Apple poaches NFC and mobile payments expert away from Visa to expand Apple Pay in Europe

Apple Pay in action

Apple has hired Mary Carol Harris, former Director of Mobile at Visa Europe to help bring the NFC-based Apple Pay mobile payments system to Europe, PaymentEye reported Monday.

She’s been with Visa since 2008 and previously headed up NFC at Telefónica, Spain’s leading multinational by market cap and one of the largest private telecommunications company in the world.

Introduced alongside new iPhones earlier this month, Apple’s mobile payments solution is scheduled to debut in the United States on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in October, and on the Apple Watch early next year, extending the service to over 200 million owners of the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s devices worldwide.

Harris has fourteen year experience in digital and mobile payments, including NFC technology utilized by the Apple Pay. Harris’s LinkedIn profile lists her an employee of Apple Europe.

If Apple Pay is to roll out across Europe, Apple will need to sign partnerships with leading banks in Europe though no partnerships have been announced at this time.

Mary Carol Harris (LinkedIn profile 001)

Kirk McElhearn of MacWorld opined that Apple Pay may face adoption issues in Europe, where banks use credit and debit cards based on a chip-and-PIN (personal identification number) system first used in France more than 20 years ago, as opposed to the swipe-and-sign system more common in the United States.

Because using an embedded chip and a PIN is more secure than a magnetic strip, “fraud is substantially lower in Europe than it is in the United States, where it cost $5.3 billion in 2013,” wrote McElhearn.

Check out Harris discussing the future of mobile payments at Mobile World Congress in January 2014.

Apple says that the Apple Pay relies on “a groundbreaking NFC antenna design,” a dedicated chip called the Secure Element and the security and convenience of Touch ID.

More on Apple Pay can be read in Apple’s press release and on the Apple Pay webpage.

[PaymentEye via Cult of Mac]