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Apple Pay finally ventures beyond US and UK, heads to Canada and Australia

Apple Pay has been up and running for a full year now, but the Cupertino company has been slow rolling it out to locations beyond the U.S. In fact, besides its home country, Apple has only taken its mobile payments and digital wallet service across the pond to the UK. That changed in November, when two new regions were added to the contactless mobile payment service.

Updated on 11-20-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news Apple Pay has launched in Canada and Australia, but with a key restriction

After a tentative start, the tech giant is ready to finally ramp up the rollout of Apple Pay. In late October, CEO Tim Cook confirmed the service would soon launch in Canada and Australia before the end of the year, with Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain following in early 2016. However, you’ll need an American Express card to use it.

Related: A private jet is just a thumb press away with this app, thanks to Apple Pay

At the end of November, Apple added Canada and Australia to the Apple Pay map, but only for customers using an American Express card. According to Apple’s VP of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, this is because Amex is both the issuer and payment operator, making the partnership a simpler one to organize. In Australia, American Express is promoting the service on its own website, using it as a way to encourage people to sign-up for a card.

American Express is taken in far fewer locations internationally than Visa or MasterCard.

Rollout continues, but user numbers are unclear

Apple Pay, which launched in the U.S. in October 2014, allows people to pay for stuff in-store or online using newer iDevices. The service rolled out to users in the U.K in July, with most major banks and credit card providers in the country now on board.

It’s not clear how many people are using Apple Pay as the company has chosen to withhold such information. An AppleInsider report over the summer, however, highlighted a study indicating “the number of eligible Apple Pay users who tried the service dropped from 15.1 percent in March to 13.1 percent in June.” The disappointing figures came despite healthy sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which are both compatible with Apple Pay.

Another issue for the tech firm is getting retailers to sign up to its service, with a Reuters study among 100 leading U.S. retail businesses finding that 66 percent had no intention of accepting Apple Pay this year.

Still, mobile payments are here to stay, with more companies – Google, Samsung, and JP Morgan among them – diving into the market with their own offerings, a reality that’ll have all the major players competing to offer the best possible service for consumers looking to cast aside the cards and cash.