Apple Pay is launching on Monday

'Apple Pay' may be safer than plastic
'Apple Pay' may be safer than plastic

Starting Monday, you can pay for stuff with your iPhone 6.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook announced Thursday that the company's highly anticipated smartphone-based payment system will debut Oct. 20.

"We believe Apple Pay is going to be huge," Cook said. "It's going to change the way we pay for things."

Roughly 500 banks will support Apple Pay, Cook said. Apple has also signed on retailers including Bloomingdale's, Macy's (M), McDonald's (MCD), Staples (SPLS) and Whole Foods (WFM).

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Apple Pay will let iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners spend money at participating stores simply by using their phones' fingerprint scanner and holding the device up to the register.

Want to pay for something in an app? Just tap "Pay with Apple Pay," put your finger on the fingerprint reader, and you're done. The charge goes straight to your credit or debit card -- whatever you've set up with Apple.

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Apple Pay works by sending payment information via short-range radio waves. The message goes from a special chip inside the iPhone 6 to the register. It's called NFC, short for Near Field Communication.

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That neat feature is already on lots of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices and works with Google Wallet, Softcard, PayPal and other services. An estimated 220,000 retail stores already have NFC devices at the register.

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