Tim Cook hints at Apple mobile payments system, could launch with iPhone 6
Posted on 3 Feb 2014 at 11:55, by David Ludlow
Tim Cook has dropped a pretty big hint that Apple is looking at a mobile payments system, with the upcoming iPhone 6 a possible launch platform.
Reported by Time, Apple's CEO told investors on the company's earning's call, "You can tell by looking at the demographics of our customers and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices…that it’s a big opportunity on the platform".
Apple already has millions of credit card details on file, in order to process app and in-app purchases through its App Store and iTunes. In that regard, Apple is already one of the biggest mobile payment companies on the planet.
The next step, though, would be to take payments out of Apple's ecosystem and open them up so that mobile can be used to pay for real-world goods. It's long been expected that Apple would eventually make this move, with the TouchID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S providing a simple way for secure authorisation.
However, the problem with real-world transactions at the moment is that Apple doesn't currently support NFC. NFC is the method used at the moment in shops for contactless payment, with more and more stores switching payment terminals to this type. For Apple to work with the current environment, then, it would need to install NFC in its phones.
Given that the company has always been reticent in the past to do this, rumours have it that Apple will instead work on its own method of payments. Top of the list is iBeacon, which is an indoor positioning system that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), allowing low-cost transmitters to advertise their presence to iOS 7 devices. For example, the system can broadcast special offers and a payment system. The company uses this technology in Apple stores to let people pay directly from their phone.
It's possible, then, that Apple would look to roll out iBeacon or something similar to stores as an addition, not replacement, to the existing NFC terminals. More importantly, with verification available on the phone, an Apple payment system could allow payments of much more than the £20 that contactless allows.
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