It was just a week ago that we reported on Apple's latest iWallet patent application that was published by the US Patent Office. It revealed a little more about a new security system being considered along with using iBeacon in iPhones to make in-store transactions easier with retailers. Apple's first true iWallet patent application surfaced in May 2010 discussing digital transactions made with future iPhones. Since that time Apple has filed many other iWallet patent filings that can you could explore in our extensive iWallet Archives. Apple's iWallet patents cover everything from shopping, parental iWallet controls, billing systems and much, much more. Late yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is expanding their iWallet team while discussing their future iWallet services with industry executives.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported that Apple is now laying the groundwork for an expanded mobile-payments service, leveraging its growing base of iPhone and iPad users and the hundreds of millions of credit cards on file through its iTunes stores.
According to the report, "Eddy Cue, Apple's iTunes and App Store chief and a key lieutenant of Chief Executive Tim Cook, has met with industry executives to discuss Apple's interest in handling payments for physical goods and services on its devices, according to people familiar with the situation."
In another sign of the company's interest, the WSJ notes that "Apple moved Jennifer Bailey, a long-time executive who was running its online stores, into a new role to build a payment business."
Currently, Apple handles payments for movies, books, and music purchased through its iTunes store. Consumers can also buy apps and pay for items such as digital goods within an app through an iTunes account.
Apple's latest move of adding a fingerprint security feature called Touch ID to the new iPhone 5S is yet another move towards using future iPhones to make transactions in brick and mortar stores in the future.
Denee Carrington, an analyst at Forrester Research stated that "Apple is absolutely the sleeping giant in the payments world. They have the capability; they just haven't tied it all together. If Apple is in the game, it certainly changes the space and would make merchants think differently about who to partner with."
In July 2013 we learned indirectly that Apple is working with ISIS, an e-wallet service project developed by AT&T mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon. It's a service that has yet to hit mainstream despite the hype that the service was going to a big hit this past holiday season.
At the moment it's still unclear if Apple will go full tilt with their iWallet application and service or ease the project into play slowly. Apple could introduce their future iWallet services with their iTravel or "Passbook" application to buy airline tickets, rent a car or stay at hotels and eat at their respective restaurants. It could mean that Apple could introduce their iWallet service to a series of specific retailers at first to include Walmart and/or Target for instance and then grow that list out over time. Apple doesn't have to go full tilt until the system has proven to be secure and fluid. There's no rush. Most of us look forward to using Apple's iWallet transaction service, but we're more interested in Apple getting it right.
In April 2013, Apple's CEO Tim Cook told investors on a conference call that mobile-payment technology was "in its infancy." So while Apple is definitely stepping up their activity in moving their iWallet project forward, as evidenced by the WSJ report, I think that Apple is being cautious as to how they'll ease their new service into the market over time. It's not a matter of if Apple will introduce their iWallet service; it's just a matter of when and how.
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