Apple Grows Payments Patent War Chest (June 10, 2013)
Just days before Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which runs all this week in San Francisco, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Apple another patent that could be a signal of what the tech giant is planning for mobile payments. The patent relates to a “method and system for managing credits via a mobile device.”
The system would facilitate “delivering upon request credits having monetary value to a mobile device using a communications network. . . . Credit may be offset, or sponsored, by one or more token providers and issued to the user, upon authorization, to enable the user to use the mobile device to purchase items, e.g., at a point-of-sale terminal,” according to the patent application.
Revenue from mobile commerce for new entrants, such as Apple, will come from marketing programs, not the payments ecosystem, according to David W. Schropfer, head of mobile commerce for advisory firm The Luciano Group.
“The new Apple patent application is focused on integrating marketing programs with a mobile payment transaction,” Schropfer tells Paybefore. “For example, a coupon for ‘$5 off’ is a form of currency and needs to be approved at the point of sale just like any payment card. This patent allows for coupons and loyalty redemption to be used for payment of an order at the POS through a mobile phone. [The patent] can be used to enable Apple to process payment cards, redeem loyalty points or use coupons—all over the same system.”
The patent is the latest of several moves by Apple involving m-commerce, including a patent filing for its EasyPay mobile payment technology and the acquisition of AuthenTec Inc., a fingerprint sensor technology company, and subsequent patent filing for a biometric application that could be used to authenticate payments. Apple, which has been notoriously quiet on its mobile payments strategy outside of launching Passbook, could not be reached for comment.