Ahead of Apple Pay, Bank Hapoalim launches Israel's first digital wallet

The new wave of digital wallets is expected to change the way Israelis make commercial payments.

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
The digital wallet is finally coming to Israel. With Apple Pay expected to come to Israel in the coming weeks, Bank Hapoalim launched its new digital wallet this week, allowing customers to pay at stores by simply touching their smartphone to the checkout device.
Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, along with digital payment solutions like PayPal and Venmo, are designed to make digital payments easier than credit card transactions. Israelis have had apps like Bit, Pepper and Paybox that allow them to transfer money between friends for several years, but the new wave of digital wallets is expected to change the way Israelis make commercial payments.
Bank Hapoalim’s Bit is believed to be the most popular payment app, with an estimated 50% of the local market. Over the coming week, the Android app is being upgraded to include the wallet feature, which requires a separate registration, a company representative explained. The wallet enables purchases at stores and online without a pin number at any store in Israel or abroad that supports the NFC protocol.
No date has been set for an iPhone version of the wallet, the representative said.
Bank Hapoalim also introduced a digital credit card, called Bitcard, which can be ordered via the app and used online immediately, with a physical card arriving by mail afterward.
To promote the service, Bit wallet users will receive a 10% refund on purchases, totaling up to NIS 150, during the launch period. There are also discounts for Bitcard users, Hapoalim said.
Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank plan to offer their own digital wallets soon as well, competing with Hapoalim for market position. Supermarket chains Shufersal and Rami Levy are also believed to be developing digital wallets.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay, which has nearly 400 million users around the world, is expected to launch in Israel in the near future. The introduction of the service, which comes installed on all iPhones, will likely be a tipping point for the Israeli adoption of card-less payments. There are rumors that other global payment leaders like Google Pay and Samsung Pay may also open in Israel later in the year.
The Bank of Israel has been working to prepare the groundwork for more advanced payment technology. In November, Israeli credit card processors upgraded to the EMV standard, which enables contactless transactions and transactions by cellphones and smartwatches.