According to a number of sources, the company is serious about turning its iPhones into virtual wallets that consumers can use to make both online and in-store purchases.
Rumors that Apple was finally getting serious about virtual payments and about replacing cash and credit cards with smartphone apps started to pick up pace in September when the latest iPhone, the 5S, launched with a built-in fingerprint scanner.
Called Touch ID it can be used by the phone’s owner to unlock the handset and for validating identity and purchases in the App Store and from iTunes.
However, according to Re/code, this is just the start. The well-connected tech site says that Apple is in the process of interviewing senior payments industry executives as it starts to build a full electronic payments business.
Specifically, the company is looking at how to make it easier for its customers to buy goods in physical stores using nothing more than their smartphone and their iTunes account details. This is on top of creating a system whereby an iPhone could be used for validating a purchase made online. An unnamed source in the article is quoted as saying that Apple’s “ambitions are very, very serious.”
Apple has made no secret of the fact that it wants to go further in offering its customers new and easy-to-use electronic payment options.
During its last earning call, company CEO Tim Cook said that part of the reasoning behind the Touch ID fingerprint scanner was to facilitate payments and authentication beyond Apple’s walled garden. “The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with, and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID. But we’re not limiting ourselves just to that,” he said.
Earlier this year, Apple Insider also unearthed an Apple Patent application detailing a touchless payment and electronic wallet solution.