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Apple Pay Starts Oct 20 For One-Tap Purchases

Shopping is about to get much easier, for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users anyway. Apple announced today that its Apple Pay mobile wallet system will be live starting Monday, Oct. 20th in the United States. With Pay, you can load all your credit/debit and loyalty cards into your iPhone, and pay for purchases with a tap at participating stores.

Built into the existing Passbook app in iOS 8, Apple Pay will be accepted by many major retailers, including Macy's, Sephora, Staples, Whole Foods, McDonald's, Walgreens, Nike and Petco. The leading credit card merchants -- Visa, Mastercard and American Express -- have already signed on to support the system, as well as more than 500 banks.

MORE: Apple Pay: Can You Trust It?

Those who have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus can pay with a touch thanks to built-in NFC support, while those who have the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s can use Apple Pay if they also have an Apple Watch. The smartwatch, which is expected to retail next year, will have NFC built in to facilitate these transactions.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said Pay would be an easy, secure and private way to purchase things. From what we already know, Pay uses a security feature called tokenization that masks each credit card number with a "token", a one-time string of mostly random bits, before sending that data to the merchant's point-of-sale system. This system makes Pay more secure than most standard credit card formats in the market right now.

Staff writer Cherlynn Low prefers her plastic. Follow her @cherlynnlowFollow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.