Mobile payments could be coming to the iPhone 6

Apple’s mobile payments solution could arrive in the iPhone 6 this fall


Touch ID
Photo: Apple

Apple’s big plan for mobile payments could debut as early as the iPhone 6 this fall, according to a new report from The Information. While the company has been in talks with major players in the payments industry for a while, its efforts haven’t made it into the light of day yet.

The mobile “wallet” would allow the user to pay in the real world using just their iPhone, and Apple already has the security feature in place to make it all work seamlessly.

Apple has reportedly been interviewing executives in the payments industry, and companies like PayPal have been lobbying hard to be part of the project. The Information adds that these talks have “heated up in recent months,” and that the we could see the technology as soon as the iPhone 6, which is expected to debut in September.

A concept designer's take on how Apple could implement mobile payments with Touch ID.
A concept designer’s take on how Apple could implement mobile payments with Touch ID.

“Apple has told some partners its system would involve a so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner’s financial credentials can be stored,” according to the report. “The company also aims to run the system without giving up any control to wireless carriers.”

What “secured element” could that be, exactly? Tim Cook has already said publicly that mobile payments was a key reason for creating Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s. Touch ID works with what Apple calls the “Secure Enclave” chip inside the A7 processor. The user’s fingerprint data is stored securely in the enclave where its can’t be read by any other part of the phone, including third-party apps.

It’s easy to imagine Apple pitching the Secure Enclave as a place to store financial information—a safe place untouchable by snooping apps and greedy advertisers. And paying for something could be as easy as authenticating a purchase with your finger.

“The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with, and that was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID,” said Cook during an earnings call earlier this year. “You can tell by looking at the demographics of our customers, and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices versus the competition, that it’s a big opportunity on the platform.”

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Apple launched iTunes Pass domestically last week, a digital gift card that can be added to Passbook for the iTunes Store. There are 800 million iTunes Store customers, many of which already have credit cards on file. That gives Apple a serious upper-hand when approaching its mobile payments strategy.

Of course, there are still a lot of factors outside of Apple’s control, namely how merchants and retailers will choose to adopt the technology. Google Wallet and other initiatives have flopped, but with Touch ID, millions of iTunes accounts, and the tremendous number of iBeacons already in the wild, Apple could be in a position to do mobile payments better than anyone.

Source: The Information