No retailer is 100 percent immune to a data breach, but as a consumer, you can reduce the risk of your data being compromised by using your Apple device to make purchases.

With Apple Pay, you can link your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air® 2, iPad mini™ 3 or Apple Watch to your FirstMerit debit or credit card and use your device to pay, removing the need to share your card number with retailers, which store that information.

“We’re focusing on what the customer is looking for — self-service, ease of use and mobile,” says Jay Dobkowski, senior vice president, director of e-commerce at FirstMerit Bank. “As mobile transactions continue to grow, this gives people a tool to use to make easier and safer purchases.”

Apple Pay

Once set up, you can authorize a payment using Apple Pay on an iPhone by simply placing your finger on the Touch ID, which is built into the phone’s home button. On the Apple Watch, double-click the side button to make your payment. Your fingerprint identifies you as the unique user and allows Apple Pay to automatically charge your linked bank account, says Jason Gendics, senior vice president, director of card services and payment innovations at FirstMerit Bank.

An understandable concern of consumers making card payments is data security. Apple Pay helps prevent point-of-sale fraud by blocking retailers from storing the user’s card information.

“The transaction is tokenized, meaning you are getting approval for that one and only transaction,” Gendics says. “The store does not hold onto your card information, the card number or the expiration date. So if there is a data breach, your information is not with the store to be taken.”

If you lose your phone, you can also feel secure knowing that your linked credit or debit card number is safe. “FirstMerit has that number. MasterCard has that number. But the information that passes to Apple is encrypted in the translation back and forth, so Apple never has the number,” Dobkowski says.

While not all merchants accept Apple Pay yet, major retailers such as McDonald’s, Best Buy and Panera are using the system, and Dobkowski and Gendics expect more retailers to get on board as consumers rapidly adopt the technology. The first day FirstMerit Bank made Apple Pay available, more than 500 customers registered for it.

“Customers have become accustomed to using their phones for everyday life,” Gendics says. “Instead of pulling out a piece of plastic, they can use their phones — and a lot of people are really enjoying the opportunity to choose the channel by which they make a payment.”

FirstMerit is currently working toward the introduction of Samsung Pay and Android Pay in the coming months.

Apple Pay