Apple Eyeing P2P, Patent Filing Suggests (July 7, 2015)
P2P providers may have to brace for yet another competitor to enter the crowded field—Apple Inc.—which has filed a patent suggesting plans to extend P2P services to its Apple Pay users. The patent, filed last fall, surfaced last week, and describes a process enabling Apple Pay users to send payments linked to a bank account or payment card to one another, using Apple’s encrypted, secure element-based payments technology. Users would initiate payments within the iPhone Wallet, which would authenticate them with Touch ID or a passcode, and recipients would be notified of a payment via email, the patent suggests. The patent provides no details about the timing of the prospective service’s rollout, and observers note Apple is known for filing numerous patents that don’t result in immediate product rollouts.
But Apple’s possible move into P2P could have significant repercussions, some observers note. The U.S. P2P field has languished for several years without becoming more than a niche, dominated by PayPal’s Venmo, Square Cash and PayPal itself, as well as banks offering P2P services like Fiserv’s Popmoney. Tech giants including Google, via Google Wallet with Gmail, also offer P2P, and Facebook rolled out its own P2P payments service this summer to 500 million prospective users via its Messenger service. Though supply seems to outstrip demand for P2P services so far, some are wondering: Could Apple do with P2P what it’s done with Apple Pay to galvanize the mobile payments ecosystem, and light a fire under payments between consumers?
While Apple remains mum on its P2P plans, word is leaking out about its upcoming Apple Pay launch in the U.K. Memos from at least one major retailer suggest Apple Pay will go live in the U.K. on July 14. More than half of U.K. credit and debit cards are expected to support Apple Pay by the end of the year, with HSBC, Santander and Nationwide among the first wave of banks supporting it. More than 250,000 U.K. merchants and Transport for London reportedly will support Apple Pay when it launches. Apple last month said Apple Pay would reach the U.K. this year, but did not specify a date. Initially U.K. Apple Pay users will be limited to transactions of £20 (US$30).