On June 6, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals yet another layer in Apple's future iWallet services. Apple's latest invention generally relates to methods and systems for payment of goods and services, and the issuance of credits toward the payment of goods and services, via a mobile device. The twist to Apple's invention is that it details how wireless carriers and/or ad agencies will be able to provide users with billing information in real time. Moreover, Apple's invention once again describes a subsidized program whereby users are credited for interacting with ads and that the credit could be used in-part to subsidize their smartphone services like TV or radio. This is timely considering that Reuters is reporting this morning that Apple's future iRadio service will also have ads currently sold by their iAd division. This is how Apple will be able to offer a free radio service. Apple first introduced the subsidy concept originally back in October 2009 that was more slanted toward subsidizing hardware.
Another iWallet Related Patent & Beyond
Apple states that smartphone could be used as a payment method in point of sales transactions. One example of such usage involves using near field communication (NFC) capabilities of a smartphone to use it as credit card in the point of sales transaction.
Beyond using a smartphone as a credit card, it could also be used to receive coupons for discounts which may be used in a point of sales transaction.
In the big picture, Apple's invention is directed at least in part to a method and system for providing credits, vouchers or coupons representative of monetary value to users of mobile devices such as smartphones. The users of the smartphones will be able to use the monetary value of the credits to purchase goods and/or services.
Credit Delivery System Architecture
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates a schematic of an exemplifying architecture of a first embodiment of a credit delivery system.
Gain Credits by Viewing Ads
Apple's invention also encompasses a system for enabling users of mobile devices to receive credits having monetary value which would be inclusive of the mobile devices. In the latter case, the users may be required to view advertisements in exchange for the credits.
A Little about the Proposed Meter Based Billing System
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates a billing system operatively coupled to a communications network and may be arranged to maintain an account of available money for each mobile device.
Further, the billing system may be arranged to monitor and/or meter usage of the communications network by each mobile device and monitor and/or meter usage and payments of or for the advertisements being delivered to each mobile device.
The billing system may be a real-time billing system or a close-to-real-time billing system. The billing system or other suitable means associated with the system could be arranged for payment from users of the mobile devices based on their usage of the communications network. Payment may be pre-paid, i.e. the user has paid for the service before using the communications network and the billing system monitors and reduces the paid amount in the user's account based on usage.
Alternatively payment may be post-paid and a billing system monitors usage of the communications network and the user pays for the services after usage. Usage of the communications network may entail voice services, messaging services (Short Message Service, Multimedia Message Service, Instant Message Service, Electronic mail services), video telephony services, push-to-talk services, data services such as Internet or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browsing services, content usage (television, radio, video) services, download services, premium SMS (pSMS) service, among others.
Free or Subsidized iDevice Services
In one embodiment of the invention, the billing system meters usage of the services by each user and compares the metered usage with a free or subsidized balance allocated to each user. In this manner, although invoices are not sent to the users, the metered usage is compared with business rules associated with the users and the cost for providing the free or subsidized services to the users is invoiced directly or indirectly from advertisers.
Other techniques to provide subsidized or free telephone services to the users are also envisioned. For subsidized telephone services, the users may be responsible for a portion of their usage and thus they would be interested in eliminating unnecessary use of such telephone services.
The system also includes a wallet service server which in one embodiment, is a computer system running the wallet service. The wallet service server communicates with the mobile devices via the communications network and is operatively coupled to the billing system.
Apple states that when there is sufficient credit, i.e., in the account maintained by the billing system or by the third party such as a bank or credit card company, it will cause a process of generating and delivering a code to be used to confirm the transaction. The code will be typically generated by the issuer.
To review Apple's latest iWallet related invention, see patent application 20130144789 which is credited to Janne Aaltonen. Apple's patent was filed in Q1 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown at this time.
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