I was able to activate Apple Pay with no extra verifcation or steps at all. It was very easy--but since you only activate a card ONCE, I think the bank should definitely require more verification. It's not that hard to answer a call or something.
Anyway, glad to finally have my little local bank (or at least, their credit card partner) on board with Apple Pay. Used it for the first time this weekend, and it's all it's cracked up to be!