Apple plays waiting game with mobile payment

Macworld Australia Staff
9 July, 2012
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Apple’s decision not to include mobile payments in its new Passbook iOS feature was a deliberate strategy by the company’s executives that flew in the face of a more aggressive approach favoured by some engineers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Passbook, announced at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) last month and to be released as part of iOS 6 later this year, lets you grab your boarding passes, tickets, store card apps, movie tickets and the like and organise and use them.

The company’s head of iPhone software, Scott Forstall, called it “the simplest way to get all your passes in one place”. However people are talking about what it doesn’t do: It can’t link directly to credit or debit cards, so consumers can’t use it to replace their wallets.

“Holding back on mobile payments was a deliberate strategy, the result of deep discussion last year,” the WSJ reported. “Some Apple engineers argued for a more-aggressive approach that would integrate payments more directly.”

A small group began investigating whether Apple should create the mobile payment function or build a payment network of its own.

They discussed whether Apple should facilitate payments to merchants directly, but the idea didn’t go very far, and worldwide marketing head Phil Schiller was worried that if Apple facilitated credit-card payments directly consumers might blame Apple for a bad experience with a merchant.

“Apple executives chose the go-slow approach for now,” the WSJ said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

According to analysts, Apple appears to have an advantage in the mobile-payment area with the millions of iPhones sold and the 400-million credit-card accounts registered through iTunes. They predict Apple will come out with this feature once consumers are comfortable.

For now Apple has opted for Passbook, which engineers still refer to as the “wallet app.”



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