With Apple’s P2P rollout and partnerships getting closer, it’s not surprising that Apple was granted a Patent for the approach last month. But what was not expected was how inclusive and extensive Cupertino envisions P2P being, with the capability integrated into almost every iPhone function.
“It’s clear that Apple is planning to provide an OS-wide payments integration that provides merchants with marketing benefits such as the ability to promote certain deals directly into the OS, such as geo-location based promotions into Maps, or via e-mails or instant messages, all with the ability to compete purchase/pre-order with one click based on Apple Pay enrollment and identity information stored on the device,” said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst with payments consulting firm Double Diamond Group,
Oglesby argues that this is the logical next move for Apple, as Apple Pay moves into its second-year year with growing market maturity and acceptance.
“Where the first generation of Apple Pay focused on value propositions of the banks intended to drive bank participation and integration of banking apps with Apple Pay, the next generation will be much more focused on driving merchant value propositions such as the ability to promote products with instant purchase/order ability and/or the ability to promote the merchants’ own applications with instant enrollment in the merchant apps,” Oglesby said. “That’s really smart, as Apple Pay will only gain greater usage if merchants find reasons to promote it. Merchants will promote it if there is financial value. Apple has massive opportunities to drive merchant financial value based on redirecting consumer attention on Apple devices towards merchants. Apple clearly plans to do this by enabling commerce across the platform, via the messaging app, via the maps app, via Mail, probably via the music player, via iBeacons, etc. Apple Pay will be a core part of all of this. P2P is a necessary component to drive consumer enrollment, adoption, engagement, but it isn’t the real driving factor behind Apple’s moves.”
There are two caveats that we have to stress. Yes, patents are not always productized. But secondly, this Patent was filed back on Sept. 30, 2014, and presumably written some time earlier than that. Given how much has changed in mobile payments in the last 16 months, it’s certainly fair to assume that Apple may have changed much of its thinking in the interim.
Consider, for example, this line from the Patent: “Making a purchase using an NFC-enabled device at a point-of-sale terminal frequently requires navigating a complex and time-consuming user interface to select the payment account that should be charged.” Say what you will about the drawbacks in using NFC transactions in January 2016, but the payment selection and interface are neither complex nor time-consuming. Indeed, even critics today concede that it’s typically instantaneous and effortless. That seems to be very much a 2014 concern that is no longer an issue.
The filing also makes clear that Apple—not surprisingly—has long intended to use it’s 3D Touch capability within its mobile wallet, allowing different levels of shopper touch to signal different payment requests.
From the Patent (and note the reference to stylus, which also exposes the filing’s age): “The term ‘intensity’ of a contact on a touch-sensitive surface refers to the force or pressure (force per unit area) of a contact (e.g., a finger contact) on the touch-sensitive surface, or to a substitute (proxy) for the force or pressure of a contact on the touch-sensitive surface. The intensity of a contact has a range of values that includes at least four distinct values and more typically includes hundreds of distinct values (e.g., at least 256). Intensity of a contact is, optionally, determined (or measured) using various approaches and various sensors or combinations of sensors. For example, one or more force sensors underneath or adjacent to the touch-sensitive surface are, optionally, used to measure force at various points on the touch-sensitive surface. In some implementations, force measurements from multiple force sensors are combined (e.g., a weighted average) to determine an estimated force of a contact. Similarly, a pressure-sensitive tip of a stylus is, optionally, used to determine a pressure of the stylus on the touch-sensitive surface. Alternatively, the size of the contact area detected on the touch-sensitive surface and/or changes thereto, the capacitance of the touch-sensitive surface proximate to the contact and/or changes thereto, and/or the resistance of the touch-sensitive surface.”
One key problem with using touch intensity to dictate different commands is that shoppers may not control their touch levels sufficiently. In short, this could execute the wrong commands and lead to more frustrated shoppers—and quite possibly unintended transactions that have to be reversed.
Among the possible apps to be integrated with payments listed are: “Contacts module (sometimes called an address book or contact list), Telephone module, video conferencing module, E-mail client module, Instant messaging (IM) module, Workout support module, Camera module for still and/or video images, image management module, video player module, music player module, browser module, calendar module, widget modules, which may include one or more of weather widget, stocks widget, calculator widget, alarm clock widget, dictionary widget as well as user-created widgets, search module, video and music player module, notes module, map module and online video module” and “other applications that may be stored in memory include other word processing applications, other image editing applications, drawing applications, presentation applications, JAVA-enabled applications, encryption, digital rights management, voice recognition, and voice replication.”
Patents are notorious for listing every possible way an invention could be used. But Apple’s listing of potential uses certainly paints a very extensive series of options.
The Patent said connection options “including but not limited to an antenna system, an RF transceiver, one or more amplifiers, a tuner, one or more oscillators, a digital signal processor, a CODEC chipset, a subscriber identity module (SIM) card, memory, and so forth. RF circuitry optionally communicates with networks, such as the Internet, also referred to as the World Wide Web (WWW), an intranet and/or a wireless network, such as a cellular telephone network, a wireless local area network (LAN) and/or a metropolitan area network (MAN), and other devices by wireless communication. The RF circuitry optionally includes well-known circuitry for detecting near field communication (NFC) fields, such as by a short-range communication radio. The wireless communication optionally uses any of a plurality of communications standards, protocols, and technologies, including but not limited to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), high-speed uplink packet access (HSUPA), Evolution, Data-Only (EV-DO), HSPA, HSPA+, Dual-Cell HSPA (DC-HSPDA), long term evolution (LTE), near field communication (NFC), wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA), code division multiple access (CDMA), time division multiple access (TDMA), Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE), Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) (e.g., IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, and/or IEEE 802.11ac), voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Wi-MAX, a protocol for e-mail (e.g., Internet message access protocol (IMAP) and/or post office protocol (POP), instant messaging (e.g., extensible messaging and presence protocol (XMPP), Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE), Instant Messaging and Presence Service (IMPS)), and/or Short Message Service (SMS), or any other suitable communication protocol, including communication protocols not yet developed as of the filing date of this document.”
Apple also anticipated a shopper inadvertently making a payment when making a call. The Patent describes “the proximity sensor turns off and disables touch screen when the multifunction device is placed near the user’s ear (e.g., when the user is making a phone call).”
The developers at Apple are getting creative as to how a shopper may choose a specific payment card for a specific purchase. It would allow for consumers to more precisely choose how much debt it is willing to load onto a particular payment method.
“Different payment accounts are assigned as the default card based on the budget available on one or more payment accounts. For example, a payment account that has reached a maximum budget—or has reached a threshold based on the maximum budget—will not be used as the default payment account,” the Patent filing said.
It also offered a way for “different payment accounts are assigned as the default payment account based on current environmental factors, such as the current day of month, time of day, and/or location.” It’s not clear why a shopper would want to use a specific MasterCard on the eighth of the month and an American Express card on the ninth of the month—or why day and location would similarly suggest a particular payment method.