Apple have filed a patent to steal some of PayPal’s business – personal payments via mobile phone.
The patent sets out a method of “using electronic devices (such as cellular telephones) that communicate wirelessly, two individuals can make person-to-person payments”. They go on to elaborate that someone can identify another mobile phone close by to make an encrypted payment to.
Translating the legalese means that Apple want you to use your iPhone to link to your friends iPhone and have the ability to send them money electronically from iPhone to iPhone (or possibly an iPad etc). This would fill a hole in Apple Pay which currently doesn’t provide an easy way to send cash between friends.
Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant and want to split the bill, all you’d need to do is get out your iPhones and everyone would be able to send money to the person who’s paying the bill instantly and wirelessly.
What’s interesting here is that Apple don’t appear to be describing mobile network payments or even payments over WiFi, it sounds much more like payments over Bluetooth, that means you could send money to “Dan’s iPhone” or whatever “My Device” name your friend had given their iPhone. This means so long as the person you want to send money to is in the immediate vicinity you don’t even need to know their email address or mobile phone number to send them virtual cash.
Whether this patent will make it into a real world application has yet to be seen, but it shows Apple are serious about owning the mobile money market and taking a chunk of the share that is owned by the likes of PayPal with Venmo and Square.